Today, as firefighters in the air and on the ground continue to battle devastating wildfires in Southern California, the State of Georgia’s Forestry Commission took a major step forward in helping prevent similar outbreaks in their home state by taking delivery of the industry’s newest firefighting aircraft – the Thrush 510G Switchback.
Powered by a GE H80 turbine engine, the Switchback is designated as a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) aircraft and will be used by the Georgia Forestry Commission for fire detection, rapid response firefighting and training. Thanks to its size and maneuverability, the 510G Switchback has the ability to quickly deliver 500 gallons of water, retardant or fire suppressant with pinpoint accuracy in tight environments. In addition, the Switchback has the ability to switch from agricultural spray duties to firefighting capabilities in a matter of minutes thanks to its unique fire gate delivery system.
Georgia experiences an average of some 4,000 wildfires annually, which typically damage roughly 35,000 acres of forested land. With wood being one of the state’s leading commodities, wildfires have the possibility of causing a significant impact on the state’s economy as well as its expansive forest resources. The Georgia Forestry Commission is responsible for the management and protection of those resources, and its aerial attack capabilities play a major role in both fire prevention and suppression.
“We’re extremely proud to be adding the Switchback to our aerial firefighting fleet,” said Georgia Forestry Commission’s director, Chuck Williams. “It boasts many advantages for our firefighting efforts and heralds an exciting new chapter in our commitment to protect and conserve the more than 24 million acres of timberland across our state. You’ll see these aircraft deployed not just for rapid fire suppression – but also in the very important role of rapid fire detection, which can sometimes make all the difference in being able to contain a wildfire, versus having it become uncontrollable.”