Conair Firecat

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Firecat, Turbo Firecat
A French Turbo Firecat over Sausset-Les-Pins
Role Fire-fighting aircraft
National origin Canada
Manufacturer Conair
Introduction 1978 (Firecat)
1988 (Turbo Firecat)
Retired Retired in Canada 2012
Status Active in France with Sécurité Civile (Turbo Firecat only)
Primary users Conair
Sécurité Civile
Number built 35

The Conair Firecat is a fire-fighting aircraft developed in Canada in the 1970s by modifying military surplus Grumman S-2 Trackers. The modifications were developed by the maintenance arm of the Conair Group, which became a separate company called Cascade Aerospace.[1]


The Firecats are retrofitted Grumman S-2 Trackers. Conair bought a large number of Trackers formerly operated by the Canadian Navy and a small number of ex-United States Navy aircraft as well.[2] The Trackers are modified for aerial firefighting as Firecats by raising the cabin floor by 20 cm (8 in) and fitting a 3,296 litre (870 U.S. gal) retardant tank where the torpedo bay is normally located. All superfluous military equipment is removed and the empty weight is almost 1,500 kg lower than a Tracker's.[3] The first aircraft was modified in 1978.[3] Some examples have been re-engined with turboprop engines and are known as Turbo Firecats, these feature a larger tank and extra underwing fuel tanks; the Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW) is increased by 680 kg (1,500 lb) to 12,480 kg (27,500 lb), while the lighter turbine engines also reduce the empty weight. The first Turbo Firecat was produced in 1988.[3]

Operational history[edit]

Conair commenced Firecat operations in 1978.[4] Firecats and Turbo Firecats were previously in service with Conair and the Government of Saskatchewan in Canada[2][5] and were also used by the Government of Ontario.[6] The Sécurité Civile organisation in France took delivery of 14 Firecats over a period of five years commencing in May 1982.[7] It has had its examples further converted and is now standardized on the Turbo Firecat.[8] A total of 35 Firecat and Turbo Firecat conversions have been performed;[9] four Firecats and three Turbo Firecats have crashed in France, reflecting the hazardous nature of firebombing operations.[7][10][11] As of 2016; a total of 9 Turbo Firecats remain in service for Sécurité Civile in France.

Similar conversions are performed by another company Marsh Aviation in the United States. These are known as Marsh Turbo Trackers and feature Garrett AiResearch TPE-331 turboprop engines.[12]


Original version, fitted with Wright R-1820 radial piston engines as fitted to standard Grumman Trackers
Turbo Firecat
Version fitted with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67AF turboprop engines

Aircraft on display[edit]

Specifications (Turbo Firecat)[edit]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 3,395 l (897 U.S. gal) of water, plus 173 l (46 U.S. gal) of foam concentrate
  • Length: 13.26 m (43 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 22.12 m (72 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 5.05 m (16 ft 7 in)
  • Empty weight: 6,803 kg (15,000 lb)
  • Gross weight: 12,473 kg (27,500 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67AF, 761 kW (1,220 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 407 km/h (253 mph)
  • Endurance: 5 hours  6 min

See also[edit]

Related development


  1. ^ Cascade Aerospace history retrieved 2008-01-15.
  2. ^ a b Tracker survivors in Canada retrieved 2008-01-18.
  3. ^ a b c Aircraft World Directory Firecat page retrieved 2008-01-18. Archived 2 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Lavender, Bill. "Conair working fires in Canada", AgAir Update magazine, Perry, GA, July 2003 (online version). Retrieved 2008-01-18.
  5. ^ "Aviation Operations - Environment - Government of Saskatchewan". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  6. ^ Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre Tracker page retrieved 2008-01-18.
  7. ^ a b History of Sécurité Civile Firecat operations (in French). Retrieved: 18 August 2008.
  8. ^ Tracker survivors in France retrieved 2008-01-18.
  9. ^ USA Warplanes Tracker page retrieved 2008-01-18.
  10. ^ History of Sécurité Civile Turbo Firecat operations (in French). Retrieved: 18 August 2008.
  11. ^ List of Tracker crashes since 2000 retrieved 2008-01-18.
  12. ^ Turbo Tracker Type Certificate retrieved 2008-01-18.
  13. ^ Niles, Russ (7 October 2012). "Firecat Goes To Museum". AVweb. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 

External links[edit]