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The aircraft unit is immediately strengthened with the purchase of two Air Tractors – Proposal to the Ministry to meet needs

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The aircraft unit is immediately strengthened with the purchase of two Air Tractors - Proposal to the Ministry to meet needs

The Ministry of Agriculture is proceeding with the immediate reinforcement of the aircraft unit of the Department of Forests with the purchase of two Air Tractor type firefighting planes (see photo), as the Minister of Agriculture Costas Kadis stated yesterday to “P”. At the same time, a proposal is being prepared to the Council of Ministers in order to cover the needs of the aircraft unit of the Department of Forests in the medium and long term. The design also includes the purchase of additional aircraft. The proposal to the Council of Ministers was prepared by the Department of Forests on the basis of suggestions from British experts who last year put the Department of Forestry's aircraft unit under their microscope. The proposal is under study at the Ministry of Agriculture and is expected to be costed by the Ministry of Finance in order to include the required appropriations in the budgets of the coming years.

The director of the Forest Department Charalambos Alexandrou, speaking yesterday to Politis 107.6 & 97.6 and the “Morning Inspection” said that the proposal prepared to the Council of Ministers determines the operating framework of the aircraft unit and at the same time addresses the needs of the unit in aircraft. . According to Mr. Alexandrou, the aircraft unit of the Department of Forests needs great improvement. “We do not have pilots and we buy services,” he said. Noting that the Department of Forests announced three vacancies for pilots and only two were hired as there was no interest.

Today, the Forestry Department has two privately owned firefighting aircraft, one a US-made Thrush 550P SEAT with a capacity of 2,050 liters of water and the second an American-made Air Tractor 802F with a SEAT capacity of 3.0 liters of water. The headquarters of the aircraft unit is Larnaca International Airport. It houses the staff offices, the operations office where the aircraft is coordinated during operations, the crew information room, the aircraft hangar where the necessary maintenance is carried out and the rapid supply facilities of the aircraft with water, fire foam and decelerating fluids.

€ 3.9 million in 2021

The budget of the Department of Forests for the year 2021 includes funds of € 3.9 million which are intended to cover the cost of renting four firefighting planes that participated in extinguishing last Saturday's fire. Specifically:

  • Purchase of two helicopter services for firefighting – € 1,469,382. These Kamov helicopters are based in Paphos.
  • Provision for any extension of the lease / purchase of services of the two helicopters within the autumn due to the high temperatures and the drought – € 240,000.
  • Purchase of services of two Air Tractor type firefighting aircraft – € 2,002,175.
  • Leasing / purchasing services of a coordination aircraft. The provision concerns a period of six months for the year 2021 and 2022 with an option for 2023 and 2024.

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Source: politis.com.cy

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