The European Union is building up a fleet of water bombers to fight forest fires. It has now been expanded further.
The change in climate leads to warmer and drier summers. And that increases the risk of forest fires. «While fires may be part of some ecosystems, they are becoming more frequent and larger due to human-induced climate change», says Pascal Peduzzi, director of the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP.
To tackle the threat, EU member states have decided to pool and expand their resources. Last year, the EU adopted Resc EU, a plan to strengthen disaster response. Part of it is a fleet of fire-fighting planes and helicopters.
Now it has been extended by two planes which are stationed in Sweden. The two Air Tractor AT-802 are operated by Saab. The purchase of the planes was funded by the EU.
«Forest fires can break out at any time and climate change has led to their increase throughout Europe. We must be prepared this summer», comments Janez Lenarčič, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management. The Resc EU fleet now comprises 13 aircraft and six helicopters. Two fire-fighting aircraft are located in Croatia, two in Cyprus, one in France, two in Greece, two in Italy, two in Spain and two in Sweden, where there are also six fire-fighting helicopters.
Canadair planes still widely used
The aircraft most frequently used for fire fighting is the Canadair CL-415, production of which was discontinued in 2015. However, since the users are very satisfied, the Canadian owner Viking Air is starting production of an improved version, the Viking Air CL-515.