The Montenegrin Ministry of Interior Aviation-Helicopter Unit (Avio-helikopterska jedinica Ministarstva unutrašnjih poslova Republike Crne Gore) has further increased its aerial fire-fighting fleet by introduction into service of one twin-seat Air Tractor AT-802 fire-fighting aircraft in configuration with classical tricycle, tailwheel-type landing gear.
Being procured brand-new from the Spanish company “Air Tractor Europe S.L.U.”, the aircraft wearing Spanish delivery registration EC-MRV (c/n 802-0711), was handed over to its new operator at Podgorica-Golubovci airport on 10 July. Under the procurement agreement, training for two Montenegrin pilots was also organized and conducted in Valencia, Spain.
Produced in 2017, the newest Montenegrin aircraft is equipped according to the latest production standards of Texas-based Air Tractor Inc. – the plane features Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F turboprop engine delivering 1.600shp, the latest Generation II FRDS (Fire Retardant Delivery System) and an AmSafe inflatable airbag system.
Being the fourth AT-802 to join Montenegrin Ministry of Interior since 2008, the latest addition is indeed the first twin-seat AT-802 to enter service in Montenegro. This aircraft is expected to get Montenegrin civil registration 4O-EAD. Montenegro’s legacy with AT-802 began in 2009 when a pair of amphibian-configured, floats-equipped Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss aircraft became part of the Aviation-Helicopter Unit wearing registrations 4O-EAA (c/n 802A-0281) and 4O-EAB (c/n 802A-0294). One of this (4O-EAA) was lost on 21 July 2015 in a non-fatal accident that occurred when due to pilot error the plane landed Skadar Lake with extended landing gear, flipped over and remained under water.
The pilot safely escaped the cockpit and was intact thought it took 24 hours for the aircraft to be pulled out and subsequently declared write-off as a result of sustained damages. The loss of 4O-EAA was compensated with the procurement of one single-seat Air Tractor AT-802A in configuration with tricycle, tailwheel-type landing gear. This attrition-replacement aircraft landed Podgorica-Golubovci airport on 15 December 2016 and subsequently got national registration 4O-EAC (ex EC-MIB, c/n 802A-0611). In the spring of 2017 Montenegro unified it’s AT-802 fleet by removing the floats from 4O-EAB and turning it into a land-configured aircraft.
Apart from losing amphibian capabilities, this change has also left 4O-EAB without the “Fire Boss” name in its type designation. With impressive water capacity of over 3.104 liters, capability to use highly effective fire-fighting foam and retardant and with a small financial funds needed for its procurement, operations and maintenance, the Air Tractor AT-802 has became standard for small countries in Europe – apart from Montenegro, some 80 fire-fighting AT-802s are now in regular use in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Croatia, Macedonia, Cyprus and Israel.