Airport crash tender

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"FLF Panther" airport crash tender in Germany
Oshkosh MB1 fire tender of the USMC

An airport crash tender (known in some countries as an airport fire appliance) is a specialised fire engine designed for use in aircraft rescue and firefighting at aerodromes.


Airport crash tenders are extremely powerful machines. They offer relatively good acceleration (for such large, heavy vehicles), are able to negotiate rough terrain outside the airport area, carry large capacities of water, and fire fighting foam, are fitted with powerful high-capacity pumps, and water/foam cannons and capable of delivering firefighting media over long distances.

Newer airport crash tenders also incorporate twin agent nozzles/injection systems to inject a stream of Purple-K dry chemical into the AFFF foam stream "knocking-down" the fire faster. Some also have Halotron tanks with handlines for situations that require a clean agent to be utilized. These features give the airport crash tenders a capability to reach an airplane rapidly, and rapidly put out large fires with jet fuel involved.

Some tenders have an elevated extended extinguishing arm, giving a possibility to raise a water/foam cannon into the height of approx. 10 – 20 meters, that can puncture through superficial structures of an aeroplane to fight a fire inside the fuselage.[1]

Some arms have reinforced nozzles, called a snozzle, that, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board is a "piercing nozzle on the fire truck that is used to penetrate an airplane's fuselage and dispense AFFF to extinguish fire inside the cabin or cargo area."[2]


Design for an airport crash tender using a puncture nozzle to spray inside of an airframe. The bottom left is a closeup of the head of the nozzle showing the puncture nozzle (top), a standard nozzle (bottom), a light and a thermal imager (left and right).
A Rosenbauer Simba 8x8 HRET at Frankfurt Airport in action
Spray nozzle in use on airport crash tender

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has given standards and recommended practices on rescue fire fighting categories of civil aerodromes.[3][4][5] National aviation authorities may have given even further requirements on aerodrome rescue and fire services.

The rescue fire services are based on a critical aircraft based on a statistical analysis of movements (take-offs and landings) on the airport. The aerodrome category is based on the size of the biggest aircraft taking a movement on the aerodrome. In addition, the number of movements of the critical aircraft is calculated, and the category can be decreased by one if the number of movements is lower than the standard describes. For example, at an airport regularly handling Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft with a single Boeing 777 service per week, the airport fire service has to cater up to the ICAO category 7 of the 737 and A320; a single 777 movement per week does not justify a full ICAO category 9 fire service. There are also minimum category levels based on e.g. the number of seats in the critical aircraft.[6]

Depending on the airport category, the standards determine the minimum number of rescue fire-fighting vehicles. In addition, requirements are given on the water and foam capacities, discharge rates for foam solutions, and minimum dry chemical powder (complementary agent) amounts, reserve stocks of fire fighting agents, ability to operate on rough terrain, and acceleration of the air crash tenders. The end of each runway has to be achieved in a response time of two minutes, and any part of the movement area has to be achieved in a response time not exceeding three minutes.

Range of airport firefighting vehicles[edit]

Airport rescue and firefighting services operate many specialist vehicles to provide emergency cover at airports. They include:

1) Crash tenders (as described above)

2) "Domestic" type fire appliances. Domestic appliances are similar in function and appearance to fire appliances operated by county fire services / departments. They are not as large or as heavy as airport crash tenders. The units are ordinarily used to respond to fire incidents in airport terminal buildings but also respond to aircraft incidents. The appliances carry Breathing Apparatus, rescue equipment, firefighting media, ladders, cutting equipment.

3) "First attack" or "rapid intervention vehicles"(RIV). RIVs are normally smaller, nimble fire appliances capable of quick acceleration and high speed. They carry less equipment than Domestic and Crash Tenders but arrive first on scene at aircraft incidents to begin rescue and firefighting operations whilst heavier / larger units approach.

4) General purpose vehicles (such as a fire chief's car or general purpose or incident support vehicles).


Alvis Salamander airport crash tender fitted with Pyrene equipment
E-One airport crash tender with the Royal Netherlands Air Force
MB Crash tender from Ostrava airport
  • Alvis Salamander military, 1950s
  • Colet Jaguar series commercial, current (K/R 40 Jaguar is "the most powerful crash truck in the world", 3 turbo motors, 2000 HP retarders, 10×8 drive) [7]
  • Oshkosh Striker, commercial, current
  • Rosenbauer Panther, Austria, commercial, current
  • Kronenburg, Netherlands, commercial, current
  • Scammell 6×6 Airport Crash Tender
  • Volvo F12
  • Ayaxx Crash Tender
  • Morita MAF125A Crash Tender
  • Douglas Protector II
  • American-LaFrance O-11A aircraft firefighting truck
  • Iveco 380 HP Airport Crash Tender
  • Rosenbauer Simba 6×6 airport tender
  • Rosenbauer Simba 8×8 airport tender
  • MANSK 8×8 airport tender
  • Ziegler Z6 airport tender
  • Ziegler Z8 airport tender
  • Bachert-Ziegler FLF 3500 airport tender
  • Kamaz 6×6 airport tender
  • Timoney 6×6 Airport Crash Tender
  • MAN 8×8 airport crash tender
  • Iveco Magirus Dragon airport tender
  • Iveco Magirus SuperDragon airport tender
  • Iveco Magirus Impact airport tender
  • Amertek RIV (Rescue Intervention Vehicle)
  • Waltek C5500-P fire response vehicle
  • Waltek RIV 2000
  • E-One Titan 6×6
  • Chubb Pathfinder
A Range Rover airport crash tender at RAF Elvington

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Relyea; Robert G., Garnett; Edward V.: United States Patent Application, February 8, 1993.
  2. ^ NTSB
  3. ^ ICAO: Volume 1 - Aerodrome Design and Operations. Annex 14: Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Service (RFFS) requirements
  4. ^ ICAO: Airport Services Manual. Part 1 - Rescue and Fire Fighting. 3rd edition, 1990
  5. ^ Find relevant ICAO standards and recommended practices on SKYbrary
  6. ^ Categories for Fire Fighting and Minimum Fire Fighting Capacity
  7. ^ Colet Jaguar series