By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Light sport airplanes are generally considered to be for fun flying, but a fire department in Ecuador this week took delivery of a Flight Design LSA to use as its aerial support unit. Hugh Cobo, leader of the Air Volunteer Fire Department in Bomberos de Cuenca, said he chose the CTLS as the department's first airplane because it met the required needs for safety and performance while keeping costs low for acquisition and operation. "The aircraft will certainly improve the fire department's response capability, giving more and better information about different emergencies," Cobo said. "As the Cuenca's Fire Department supports other fire departments in the region and nationwide, the CTLS will be a helpful tool we can depend upon."
The department's pilots are ready to fly missions after only 10 hours of training in the CTLS, Cobo said. The fire department is based at the Mariscal La Mar airport in the Andes, at 8,300 feet above sea level, but Cobo said the CT is capable of flying in the mountainous region with a two-person crew. He expects the CT will log about 25 hours per month on average, with more time spent aloft during wildfire season. "Using the CTLS in this way, our fire department has an effective tool to help in search functions, recognition and support of ground operations," he said.