Cargolux adds water to its cargo commodity portfolio

Aviation and climate protection – until now, this has been a contradictio in adjecto. According to statistics from IATA, ICAO and scientific institutes, aircraft currently account for around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, an interesting initiative by freight carrier, Cargolux shows that airplanes can also help in preventing the release of climate-damaging fossil gases – by helping to put out fires.

The fleet of Air Tractor firefighting aircraft deployed by Cargolux is intended to contain forest and wildfires and thus also prevent the release of large quantities of CO2 – courtesy: Air Tractor, Inc.

Last Friday (12JAN24), the Luxembourg-based airline announced the launch of a new business unit: Aquarius Aerial Firefighting (Aquarius AFF). The carrier’s aim is to help control forest and bush fires. These are increasing every year in Europe, North America, Australia, and in the Far East, and are mostly caused by the effects of global warming. Cargolux’s project is based on the assumption that greenhouse gas emissions can be limited or hampered when wildfires are extinguished right after they have been spotted.    

The “Fire Bosses” are coming
According to Cargolux, the amphibious aircraft, AT-802F “Fire Boss”, is an ideal firefighter from the air. Manufactured by Air Tractor, Inc from Olney, Texas, the plane has proven to be very efficient in many operations against wildfires. Equipped with amphibious floats, the AT-802F can land on and scoop water from nearby lakes, rivers or reservoirs. Provided a close water source is available, the plane can deliver up to 14,000 gallons per hour (53,000 liters), for extended attack or ground support. According to Air Tractor’s website, all it requires is a basic runway or water-side ramp, and fuel. The aircraft is propelled by a 1600 horsepower strong Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F turboprop engine, enabling the AT-802F to haul its payload and maneuver in mountainous and/or challenging operational environments.

Alleviating capacity shortfalls
Cargolux has ordered 12 Air Tractor AT-802F, which will be acquired over a period of three years. The first three Air Tankers have already been delivered and are expected to be ready for deployment by May 2024. Through its entrance into service, Aquarius AFF will alleviate some of the capacity shortfall for aerial firefighting in Europe and further afield, which has been a severe problem in recent years.

Deployment in different hemispheres
The carrier emphasizes that its new business unit, Aquarius AFF, will enable the company to drive a solution-oriented project forward by tackling wildfires; a root cause of growing greenhouse gas emissions. “Aquarius Aerial Firefighting is an exciting new chapter in the company’s history. Over the past years, we have witnessed wildfires becoming a growing global issue that requires a rapid response. Not only do such fires emit significant amounts of CO2, but they also pose a significant danger to lives and livelihoods. As a responsible corporate citizen, I see it as our obligation to help tackle this problem. I look forward to Aquarius Aerial Firefighting becoming an integral part of the solution,” says Richard Forson, President & CEO of Cargolux.

The executive told local media that the amphibious aircraft will be based in the southern hemisphere during the summer season – for instance in Australia – and transferred to Europe to extinguish wildfires as soon as summer begins there.

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