A King Air 350i (KA) aircraft operated by the Mexican Air Force (FAM), conditioned for spray missions, was able to bomb a cloud bank to suppress a forest fire in the northern state of Nuevo León. The National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA) assured that the aircraft’s conditioning and operation were “a 100% Mexican technological innovation.”
The King Air 350i, registration 5210, is part of the FAM Air Surveillance Squadron (EVA) at the Number 1 Military Air Base (BAM-1) in Santa Lucia and was conditioned to spray at altitudes of 10,000 feet between December 2020 and February this year Meter).
A group of eight specialists, mechanics and engineers, were involved in the modification of the aircraft. the FAM who received the 100 liter tank provided by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) to put in the device from which the passenger seats were removed.
So that the KA can be operated as a spray aircraft, the FAM specialists have reconfigured part of the hydraulic system of the 5210 so that the 100 liters of silver iodide mixture can be drained into an acetone solution. In doing this, the liquid is pumped so that it is thrown away down the stern of the hull.
The liquid from the spray tank is thrown into the hail-laden cloud in a single pass, where it acts as a core that accelerates the condensation of the ice-laden particles. Since the hail is heavier, it falls to the ground. To enable King Air to retrofit, the aircraft’s hydraulic line had to be redesigned, pressure valves modified and recalibrated, and multiple tests on the ground and in the air to ensure sprinkler function was at its best. Sending 100 liters of silver iodide in acetone was the biggest challenge because it had to be ensured that there were no leaks due to the risk of handling the second substance, which is highly flammable, said FAM specialists.
The adaptation and refitting of the KA 5210 was an order of the High Command and Air Command as a measure to add the FAM to fight forest fires with other similar modifications. The reconfiguration of the King Air 350i was carried out with funds from the SEDENA allocated budget of more than 112 billion pesos. Of this, a little more than 7 billion pesos went to command of the Mexican Air Force.
SEDENA said in a statement that following a forest fire that has struck the state of Nuevo León since March 16 this year, the Secretariat of National Defense has used 391 military elements, 28 vehicles and three planes to help suffocate this sinister .
For this activity, a King Air 350i aircraft was equipped with a sprinkler system to support the work of the civil and military authorities in the fight against the above-mentioned deflagration. The plane took off from Military Air Base No. 14 (Apodaca, Nuevo León) with personnel from the Mexican Air Force and technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and flew over the municipalities of Santiago Linares and Montemorelos, Nuevo León. The implementation carried out the dispensing of 100 liters of silver iodide in acetone solution, which when interacting with the weather conditions derived from the cold front No. 47 generated rain in the area, which contributed to the smothering of the fire.
The March 31 meteorological conditions were in place for the reagent to act, detonate the precipitation, and maintain the moisture supply that would allow the flames to be extinguished long enough to reach the target, even with the heat conditions prevailing in the ground and surrounding atmosphere to achieve extinguish the fire.
This technological innovation is one hundred percent Mexican, made by an environmentally friendly reagent, and highly effective for its intended purpose, even in the precarious conditions of desert clouds like Baja California, the driest state in the country. In the driest season of the year for the past 10 years and now in the face of eventual low water clouds on the continental shelf of Coahuila and Nuevo León, SEDENA added. (Jorge Alejandro Medellin)
Photos: Loading of the King Air 350i aircraft for the fire fighting of the Mexican Air Force.
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