Firefighting Aircraft Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecast (2022 - 2027)

The Firefighting Aircraft Market is segmented by Aircraft Type (Rotorcraft and Fixed-wing), Maximum Take-off Weight (Below 50,000kg and Above 50,000kg), and Geography (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Middle-East and Africa). The report offers market size and forecast by value (USD million) for the aforementioned segments.

Market Snapshot

fire fighting aircraft market analysis
Study Period: 2018-2027
Base Year: 2021
Fastest Growing Market: Asia-Pacific
Largest Market: North America
CAGR: 2.74 %
fire fighting aircraft market companies

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Market Overview

The firefighting aircraft market was valued at USD 2.40 billion in 2021, and the market is projected to register a CAGR of 2.74% during the forecast period (2022-2027).

Although the global economy suffered a major blow due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the spending on firefighting equipment did not experience any declines in 2020 and 2021. Some of the largest bushfire occurrences in the recent past prompted the governments to enhance their aerial firefighting capabilities.

Wildfires or forest fires cause a great deal of devastation every year in various parts of the world. However, only a few countries are equipped with aerial firefighting vehicles to tackle such wildfires. The increasing summer temperatures due to global warming, unattended campfires by humans, and lightning are some reasons for wildfires. There has been an increase in forest fire incidents worldwide in the last decade. Both the duration and the intensity of wildfires witnessed an increase due to various factors, leading to a growth in the usage of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft for firefighting. In response to the growing number of wildfires, countries are procuring water-bombing aircraft to counter such wildfires quickly and effectively.

However, as the majority of the firefighting aircraft are modified versions of old aircraft, whose subsystems are generally not at their best, they are prone to malfunctioning in non-friendly environments, with hot air and flames being the foremost challenges for the equipment. Such incidents led to accidents that endangered lives and resulted in the loss of both life and property.

Scope of the Report

Firefighting aircraft are generally deployed to combat wildfires. The firefighting aircraft market is segmented based on aircraft type, maximum take-off weight, and geography. By aircraft type, the market has been segmented into rotorcraft and fixed-wing. By maximum take-off weight, the market has been segmented into Below 50,000kg and Above 50,000kg.

The report covers firefighting aircraft, both amphibious and non-amphibious (all types of new and used aircraft converted to water bombers). The report includes both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft used for firefighting and fire-spotting. The market demand estimate includes the cost of aircraft conversion for firefighting, firefighting equipment like Bambi bucket system, snorkels and scoopers, MAFFS, aircraft leasing, cost of purchase of dedicated firefighting aircraft, and utility aircraft that may be used as an aerial firefighter. The market demand also considers the annual cost of maintenance, repair, and overhaul for the aircraft but excludes operating costs for firefighting (fuel, salaries, retardant/foam, etc.). The report also covers the market sizes and forecasts for the firefighting market across major regions. The market sizing and forecasts have been done for each segment based on value (USD million).

Aircraft Type
Maximum Take-off Weight
Below 50,000 kg
Above 50,000 kg
North America
Latin America
Middle-East and Africa

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Key Market Trends

The Rotorcraft Segment Accounted for the Largest Market Share in 2021

Although helicopters can only carry less fire retardant or water than fixed-wing aircraft, they can be used to transport firefighters and deploy equipment rapidly. Helicopters are useful for fast initial attacks on smaller wildfires. The operational benefits of using rotorcraft for firefighting missions have led to a steady increase in demand for firefighting rotorcraft on a global scale. A wide range of rotorcraft is being used to support firefighting missions, selected based on their suitability for the task and their cost-effectiveness. For instance, in August 2021, Colorado announced that it ordered a state-of-the-art helicopter known as a Sikorsky S70i FIREHAWK manufactured by United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods Corporation, to combat wildfires. The helicopter will be delivered sometime in early 2022 and will be ready for use later in the year.

Moreover, with the demand for helicopter conversions for firefighting increasing, several players are converting existing helicopter models into firefighters with the integration of modern internal water tanks and other equipment. For instance, in August 2021, United Rotorcraft announced that it ordered five Sikorsky S-70 helicopters for conversion to the Firehawk firefighting configuration. The conversion work sees the installation of a 1,000 gal external water tank to the helicopter’s belly. During the forecast period, such developments render a positive outlook for the rotorcraft segment.

fire fighting aircraft market trends

Asia-Pacific to Experience the Highest Growth During the Forecast Period

The prevalent practice of slash-and-burn agriculture, combined with the extreme effects of El Niño and La Niña events, intensified the hazard of forest fires in Asia-Pacific. There have been several instances of forest fires in the region. For instance, in October 2021, a massive forest fire broke out in Chayu County, Nyingchi City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The growing instances of wildfire and the extensive damage caused by it have encouraged regional fire protection authorities to expand their firefighting aircraft fleet. For instance, in January 2020, Korea Forest Service (KFS) purchased an S-64 Air Crane helicopter from Erickson Incorporated, a renowned operator, maintainer, and utility aircraft manufacturer. With the delivery of K9 set for 2020, KFS operational aircraft would be seven S-64 Air Crane helicopters in South Korea. Australia has been one of the countries that have seen a significantly higher amount of wildfire activity in the region in the recent past. While 85% of Australia's firefighting air services are either owned by Australian state and territory governments or leased from the Australian commercial sector, the remaining is sourced from overseas. It comprises very large air tankers, large air tankers, and heavy helicopters that can drop a great load. Hence, the country is now focusing on enhancing its aerial firefighting fleet. As of mid-2021, the country procured CH-47D Chinook and Sikorsky S-61 helitanker for its firefighting fleet. Such developments are envisioned to support the market's growth in Asia-Pacific during the forecast period.

fire fighting aircraft market share

Competitive Landscape

The market of firefighting aircraft is highly concentrated, with only a few players in the market. Textron Inc., Leonardo SpA, Lockheed Martin Corporation, ShinMaywa Industries Ltd, and Airbus SE are the major market players, together accounting for a significant share of the total market due to their strong order book and deliveries to firefighting agencies in Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific and other international firefighting agencies. To increase their footprints in the market, companies are investing in the development of new aircraft models for firefighting with capabilities to carry huge volumes of water and fire retardants. For instance, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) developed a large amphibious aircraft, AG600. The aircraft was mainly developed for supporting forest firefighting and maritime rescue operations. In July 2020, the aircraft completed its sea-based test flight. The company planned to receive the certification of the aircraft in 2021 and deliver the first aircraft to its launch customer in 2022. Similarly, Viking Aircraft developed two new firefighting aircraft models, CL-415EAF (Enhanced Aerial Firefighter) aircraft and CL-515 water bomber aircraft, in the past few years.

Major Players

  1. Lockheed Martin Corporation

  2. Textron Inc.

  3. Leonardo S.p.A.

  4. ShinMaywa Industries, Ltd.

  5. Airbus SE

Lockheed Martin Corporation Textron Inc. Leonardo S.p.A. ShinMaywa Industries, Ltd. Airbus SE

Recent Developments

  • In May 2021, Ventura County Fire announced that it took the delivery of new reconfigured UH-60L Firehawk helicopters. The two helicopters feature GPS positioning capability with an onboard digital mapping system for greater situational awareness of dismounted crewmembers, especially while operating at night and in rugged terrain.
  • In May 2021, Coldstream Helicopters announced that it completed the acquisition of four Super Pumas from the Mexican Presidential Air Wing. Once used to transport Mexico’s heads of state, the helicopters will be repurposed into Fire Cats, which are specially designed to be used by BC Wildfire Service and other fire agencies across North America.

Table of Contents


    1. 1.1 Study Assumptions and Market Definition

    2. 1.2 Scope of the Study

    3. 1.3 Currency Conversion Rates for USD



    1. 3.1 Market Size and Forecast, Global, 2018 - 2027

    2. 3.2 Market Share by Aircraft Type, 2021

    3. 3.3 Market Share by Maximum Take-off Weight, 2021

    4. 3.4 Market Share by Region, 2021

    5. 3.5 Structure of the Market and Key Participants


    1. 4.1 Market Overview

    2. 4.2 Market Drivers

    3. 4.3 Market Restraints

    4. 4.4 Porter's Five Forces Analysis

      1. 4.4.1 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

      2. 4.4.2 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

      3. 4.4.3 Threat of New Entrants

      4. 4.4.4 Threat of Substitute Products

      5. 4.4.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry


    1. 5.1 Aircraft Type

      1. 5.1.1 Rotorcraft

      2. 5.1.2 Fixed-wing

    2. 5.2 Maximum Take-off Weight

      1. 5.2.1 Below 50,000 kg

      2. 5.2.2 Above 50,000 kg

    3. 5.3 Geography

      1. 5.3.1 North America

      2. 5.3.2 Europe

      3. 5.3.3 Asia-Pacific

      4. 5.3.4 Latin America

      5. 5.3.5 Middle-East and Africa


    1. 6.1 Vendor Market Share

    2. 6.2 Company Profiles

      1. 6.2.1 United Aircraft Corporation (Beriev Aircraft Company, Ilyushin)

      2. 6.2.2 Lockheed Martin Corporation

      3. 6.2.3 Viking Air Ltd

      4. 6.2.4 ShinMaywa Industries Ltd

      5. 6.2.5 MD Helicopters Inc.

      6. 6.2.6 Textron Inc.

      7. 6.2.7 Kaman Corporation

      8. 6.2.8 Airbus SE

      9. 6.2.9 Leonardo SpA


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Frequently Asked Questions

The Firefighting Aircraft Market market is studied from 2018 - 2027.

The Firefighting Aircraft Market is growing at a CAGR of 2.74% over the next 5 years.

Asia-Pacific is growing at the highest CAGR over 2021- 2026.

North America holds highest share in 2021.

Lockheed Martin Corporation, Textron Inc., Leonardo S.p.A., ShinMaywa Industries, Ltd., Airbus SE are the major companies operating in Firefighting Aircraft Market.

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