“Air forces are making major efforts to maintain the planes in a good state but they are very old, and often have mechanical failures,” said the Minister.
The most recent accident with a Canadair plane happened earlier this week. In a training flight, a new Canadair CL-415 sank due to a mechanical failure, with no fatalities or serious injuries.
Most of the planes belonging to the Greek airborne fleet have clocked up about 40 years of firefighting service – of the 13 Canadair CL-215 in the Greek fleet, four were launched in 1974, two in 1977 and the newest in 1990. Another four were bought second-hand from Serbia in 1997. According to data by the General Air Force Command (GEA), by late June only eight of the 13 Canadairs will be operational.
Greece partially upgraded its fleet between 1999 and 2002 by buying ten Canadair CL-415. This summer, however, only five out of ten will be operational, as two of them were destroyed during accidents and another three are out of service due to mechanical problems.
The 30 firefighting and water-spraying Polish-built Pezetel of the Greek fleet are also in similar or even worse condition, with only 18 presently in service. Most have been in use since 1983, usually for woodland surveillance.