Fighting fires in the Brazilian sugar and alcohol complex

Produtiva Aeroagrícola is an aerial spraying company located in São Joaquim da Barra, in the northern state of São Paulo, Brazil. Although unknown to many Westerners, São Paulo is the world’s largest producer of ethanol and sugar. Created ten years ago by Marino de Andrade Neto, an agricultural pilot who has been flying since 1991, Produtiva Aeroagrícola has a fleet of six aircraft made up of three Ipanema 202A aircraft, a Cessna Agtruck, an AirTractor 402A and a Thrush 510G.

In addition to agricultural spraying work, Marino began firefighting with his aircraft, mainly in the sugar cane plantations, operating with conventional door boxes. Unlike other countries, aerial firefighting in Brazil can be mostly subsidized by private industry, with some large growers, associations and growers paying directly for their aerial firefighting services to protect their crops when needed. instead of relying on local, state and federal aid. when a fire breaks out.

Andrade Neto Sailor

“We are working on developing the market, because we realized there might be a demand, and it is consolidating now. We also broadcast firefighting activities widely, directly to our customers and on social media.

We serve individual rural producers, producer associations, sugar cane factories and municipalities. We have not yet implemented daily shifts or minimum hours requirements, but we are trying to educate customers about this need. For now, we are working on demand.

One of the services provided last year in the Morro Agudo region was to hire the company for two days by the local farmers’ union. In addition to rural producers, the operation benefited from the support of agro-industrial companies in the region, firefighters and municipal and national civil protection. Since there were hard-to-reach areas, the work of the plane was critical to success.

In 2021, Marino installs its first fire barrier on its Thrush 510G. The aircraft was the second to have the Zanoni hydraulic fire door installed on its aircraft; Produtiva Aeroagrícola initially helped Zanoni develop the technology.

“Sergio and Lucas Zanoni were on site for two days, making the necessary adjustments to install the hatch on our aircraft. It was a new development that serves us well. In addition to greatly improving water dispersion over a common door box, the equipment stays on the plane for spray jobs. This is fundamental for aerial application companies, as we work most of the year between agricultural operations and aerial firefighting”.

Like other regional operators, Produtiva Aeroagrícola has been encouraged to work with firefighting in the sugar cane sector due to the industry’s production and its importance to the country’s global exports. Farmers and factories are now beginning to invest in hiring this type of service to protect their assets, as its value is constantly demonstrated. The result was not only the reduction of financial losses but also of gains for society. In addition to reducing emissions of polluting gases in the production of these products, agricultural aircraft also began to help fight fires in forest reserves (private and public), becoming a fundamental tool for natural defense and agriculture sustainable.

“Let there be no fires, but if there are, we will do our best to contribute to the fight and thus minimize casualties.” The company motto represents what the agricultural aviation industry has become as it evolves to include a growing aerial firefighting presence each year.

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Rachel J. Bradford