The US Forest Service has taken delivery of two Beechcraft King Air 260s from Textron that it will use to perform wildfire mapping missions.
The aircraft have been modified for the installation of the latest infrared (IR) sensing technology, the Overwatch Imaging TK-9 Earthwatch Airborne Sensor, along with legacy US Forest Service sensors, that can accurately map wildfires, even at night and through smoke. This information is critical for firefighters when the exact extent of a fire is not known due to darkness, smoke, size of the fire, rapid spread or complex terrain. IR mapping aircraft can also be used to detect new fires started by lightning when they are very small.
“We are honoured the US Forest Service has added the King Air 260 to its fleet,” says Textron vp, special mission sales Bob Gibbs. “Whether for wildfire detection and mapping, resource management, aerial supervision module/lead plane or air attack, the King Air continues to demonstrate its leadership in this mission. Customer faith in our legendary products and trust in our company and our team are at the core of our enduring relationship with US Forest Service.”
More than 7,700 Beechcraft King Air turboprops have been delivered to customers around the world since 1964, and the worldwide fleet has surpassed 62 million flight hours since then, serving roles in all branches of the US military and flying both commercial and special mission roles around the world.
The King Air 260 cockpit features the Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S) ThrustSense autothrottle system, which supports pilots in their critical mission of delivering people or cargo by automatically managing engine power from the take off roll through the climb, cruise, descent, landing and go-around phases of flight. This enhancement reduces pilot workload and is designed to prevent over-speed or under-speed, over-temp and over-torque conditions.
The King Air 260 cockpit also features a digital pressurisation controller, which automatically schedules cabin pressurisation during both climb and descent, reducing pilot workload and increasing overall passenger comfort. The pressurisation gauges have been integrated with the powerful Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion flight deck.
The aircraft includes the Collins Multi-Scan RTA-4112 weather radar, providing pilots with a fully automatic system that is optimised to detect short, mid and long-range weather.