Your Last Best Hope When Your Plane Catches on Fire

Illustration for article titled Your Last Best Hope When Your Plane Catches on Fire

So you're sitting on the runway, waiting to taxi, when suddenly it hits you, "Funny, airplanes don't normally smell like burning." Then the panic hits. Don't worry, if your airport has a Colet K/R40 Jaguar, you'll probably be fine.

Crash trucks are specially designed first-response vehicles used in airfields to combat fires—in the fuselage of airplanes, in hangars, along runways, or wherever. (Like a firetruck, on steroids.) Built by Colet SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) in Los Altos, California, the K/R40 Jaguar is the most powerful crash truck in the world. The 1600HP, triple-turbo engine that pushes its 44-ton frame to 50mph in less than 17 seconds. It tops out at 115mph top speed, also making the K/R40 the fastest vehicle for its size in the world.

The first major redesign to the traditional crash truck-style in nearly two decades, it was specifically built for speed. The Jaguar's stainless-steel monocoque frame is welded into a single unit that doesn't twist or flex, making it 10x stronger than a normal crash truck chassis, while weighing significantly less. Its 4000-gallon water tank is situated low in the chassis to reduce the vehicle's center of gravity. Combined with the traction equalization control, a computer-controlled self-adjusting suspension, and adjustable ride height, the K/R40 Jaguar is capable of quickly reaching fires on and off runways—even in heavily wooded areas.


The K/R40 Jaguar is also equipped with a PowerFlow LR III Water Turret. With the flick of a switch, this cannon can spray the reserve's 4000 gallons of water—or flame-retardant foam—at a rate of 1500 gallons per minute with a range of about 300 feet. And, unlike traditional fire trucks, firefighters don't even need to exit the cab to control the cannon. The turret and nozzle swivel horizontally 360 degrees and tilt 57 degrees vertically. That allows the turret to enter the plane's fuselage without compromising the flow of water. Water can also be released as a stream of fog, which not only keeps fire fighters cool while they battle a blaze, it also helps to knock down dangerous gasses and smoke.

Other cool features include a sloped front hood that allows the truck to snuggle up next to the fuselage of a burning aircraft and a FLIR (forward looking infrared) system that's displayed through the cab's HUD. With one of these patrolling the runways, the fire'll (probably) be put out before the oxygen masks drop and you have a chance to hyperventilate.

[via Crash Tender Wiki - Colet SVO - Machine Design]

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I thought this Oshkosh Striker was pretty bad ass. With the boom (Snozzle) that can punch into the plane to put the water and foam right where the fire is.

(Photo taken at a exercise.)