Air Tractor returns to Savannah at the close of a strong year of aircraft production and sales. Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch reports that despite the worldwide novel coronavirus pandemic, domestic and international demand for agricultural and firefighting aircraft remains high. “The need is there, and we have the people and capacity to meet the demand. As we approach the close of the year, we will have produced 115 airplanes. I anticipate we will produce even more airplanes in 2021.”
Air Tractor Director of Training and Education Brian Hahn reports Air Tractor training courses, which launched in Fall 2019, were well attended this year before the pandemic caused some cancellations. Classes are held regularly at Air Tractor headquarters in Olney, Texas. The 2021 course schedule and additional information about Air Tractor training for aircraft maintenance technicians can be found at airtractor.com/training.
Two Air Tractor airplanes, including the popular, powerful 502XP will be on display at the NAAA Ag Aviation Expo tradeshow in booth # 523. Just across the aisle, in booth #423, Air Tractor personnel will be available to answer questions and provide information about aircraft, new products, and Air Tractor support. During the Air Tractor session Thursday morning at 8:45, Jim Hirsch will look back at 2020 activities and forward toward 2021 plans.
Parked beside the two Air Tractor airplanes is an all-new, 2020-edition custom Air Tractor golf cart. “Last year’s Air Tractor golf cart generated quite a spirited round of auction bidding,” recalls Rick Turner, Air Tractor Vice President of Operations. “So, we will bring another to Savannah so that NAAA auction participants folks can have another crack at owning one.” Other Air Tractor sponsored auction items include a uAvionix tailBeacon ADS-B Out kit and an engraved firearm.
Several new products and improvements will begin appearing on 2021 production airplanes. A new perforated metal rigid grip fuselage step will give pilots a secure, non-slip step up onto the wing. Once up on the wing, a new spray-on safety walk material provides durable, secure footing. The black, chemical resistant, long-lasting coating won’t peel.
The PPG Aerospace Securitect® 326 windshield is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2021. It is 20% lighter while providing 10x greater impact resistance than traditional laminated glass designs. It also offers better optical clarity, light transmittance and abrasion Resistance.
Tail wheels for AT-602 and AT-802 aircraft are now being produced at Air Tractor. The wheels are machined from solid aluminum billet and anodized after machining. The new wheel now has a grease zerk fitting on the axle for easy lubrication.
We continue to work with CapstanAG’s SwathPRO aerial spray system booms and look forward to the time when they can be ordered as an optional item for Air Tractor ag planes. The spray system provides true variable rate flow control. Preset user-defined profiles allow quick, easy changing of nozzle pattern profiles on the fly—from full-flow to off.
“We’re looking forward to seeing our friends in Savannah. We have lots to talk about and are excited about 2021,” says Jim Hirsch.