Turbo Tracker replacement

The new French Interior Minister, Gérard Collomb, told journalists on July 26 that the French Government is preparing to buy six additional Bombardier Q400 MRs to start replacing the Sécurité Civile’s aging fleet of nine Turbo Trackers. The Q400 MR can carry 9,000kg (19,841lb) of water/flame retardant compared to 3,200kg (7,055lb) by the Turbo Tracker. The Direction Générale de la Sécurité Civile et de la Gestion des Crises had already issued an official request for proposals in July 2016, but it was not until this year’s fire season that the government announced any firm decisions. This year, France has seen many fires in the summer months. According to the head of the Sécurité Civile, Jacques Witkowski, the fleet of Canadair CL-415s, Turbo Trackers and Q400s had already carried out 4,500 droppings by July 25; the normal number is around 2,000. Due to the increased activity and the ageing fleet, about 20% of the aircraft are currently unavailable. Replacing the Turbo Trackers with newer aircraft that also have three times the capacity should increase availability of fire-fighting aircraft throughout France in the summer months. The Sécurité Civile is also looking into a potential replacement for the Canadair CL415. Although this will be a long-term process, it will become a priority fairly soon, as the maintenance costs of the Canadair aircraft are quickly increasing. According to Collomb, the Canadair-fleet represents 60% of the total maintenance costs for the Sécurité Civile’s fixed-wing aircraft fleet. Jan Kraak