During March and April, the Croatian, Velika Gorica-based Zrakoplovno Tehnički Centar (ZTC, Aeronautical Technical Center) EASA Part 145 Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility will overhaul two EC-registered Air Tractor AT-802A fire-fighting planes deployed under contract to Saudi Arabia, the owner of the planes, Spanish company Titan Firefighting Company (Titan) informed on 9 March.
“We are company that, apart of promoting, selling and securing logistical support for Air Tractor planes in whole Europe and beyond, also provides fire-fighting services to nations around the globe,” Titan sales manager Hugo Arceo said adding that currently the company has lease agreements that are active in few countries including in Greece and Turkey.
“To the surprise of many, and this is really little known, we are also active in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where, apart from deserts, there are also precious natural resources that need to be protected from wildfires,” Arceo explains.
Titan has been active in the Kingdom since August 2021 under an Agreement that is in force until December when very likely it will be extended or replaced by a new multi-year arrangement.
The existing fire-fighting Agreement resulted in constant deployment of 3 Titan-owned AT-802A planes to Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport. Operating from there, a Spanish team of 4 pilots and one experienced mechanic, logistically backed by the local Alpha Star Aviation Services company, are executing regular aerial fire-fighting operations in the mountains of the Asir region in southwest part of Saudi Arabia.
The two planes that would pass their scheduled annual inspection in the vicinity of Zagreb were identified by Arceo as land-configured, single-seat AT-802As registered EC-NJJ (c/n 802A-0810) and EC-NMT (c/n 802A-0850). They would fly 3,900 km to ZTC and after passing maintenance would return back to the Kingdom next month.
Asked how come that Spanish planes would end up in Croatia rather than in the well-known Titan-owned Part 145 MRO, Arceo explains: “You know, our cooperation with Croatia is decades-long as they are one of the nations that for many years operate Air Tractor planes. We sold them many AT-802s and we have been supporting those Croatian planes for many years. We also do that for other operators that bought and operate Air Tractors across Europe. Sometimes, however, we use our partnership with ZTC to provide more efficient services to other AT-802 operators, and now we would use ZTC for our own planes. They are quite capable MRO and quality is good so why should I bring planes from Saudi Arabia to our MRO in Viver, near Valencia, when I can simply give business to a qualified and partnering facility that can do the annual inspection in Zagreb. It is all about logic and long-term mutual trust. They are geographically closer to Saudi Arabia so why not save days and do the job in the Balkans.”
The first Spanish AT-802A is expected in ZTC tomorrow. Explaining how dynamic company Titan is, Arceo informed that “Saudi” AT-802A registered EC-NJJ flying to Velika Gorica due to bad weather got stuck at Tirana airport yesterday. That plane was overflown today by another Titan pilot aboard Macedonian Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss Z3-BGU returning to Skopje after annual inspection in Spain. At the same time, according to Arceo, the company’s experts were working on supporting ongoing activities and various tenders in Montenegro, Slovenia, Greece and Turkey.
The first Spanish AT-802A arrived at ZTC on 12 March 2023.