Common coding of the aerial means of extinction in Spain

The Forest Fire Fighting Committee, in which the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the autonomous communities participate, approved a unique coding system for the aircraft used to extinguish forest fires. This universal system facilitate coordination between different administrations when aircraft from different communities or from the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, on which the Air Defense Squadron against Forest Fires depends.

“When you´re coordinating aircraft during a fire, you first need to know what type of aircraft is coming under your command. A singular coding system allows for rapid identification of the aircraft and allows you to make a plan on where you are going to send them, based on their characteristics: their load capacity, speed, power, what type of basin or reservoir they need to load, ect.”, comments José Antonio Sánchez, aircraft coordinator.

To José Antonio this national coding system was necessary and “very useful” for first time identification, “when you have unknown aircraft coming in, that are not from your autonomous community”. However, he points out that when there are various aircraft in a large fire “what you look for is communication that is rapid, concise and easily identifiable for everyone taking part. You cannot use long names because the pilot needs to concentrate. With the noise, the tension, and the attention put on the discharge he might not be able to perfectly identify if the order is for him”.

José Antonio considers that “we will need to see how we function. But, at least, we already know that we all already use the same terminology to identify the aircraft”.

The codification of each aircraft is established based on:

Characteristic 1: Type of aircraft
Characteristic 2: Administration responsible of the aircraft
Remaining Characteristics: Current code used by each autonomous community

Characteristic #1

Consists of a letter pronounced following the aeronautic alphabet, varying following the type of aircraft.


Characteristic #2

Consists of a letter, pronounced following the aeronautic alphabet, with the exception of Aragón and Castilla la Mancha, that vary following the administration responsible for the aircraft.


In the infographic, made by José Joaquín Aniceto, some models of aerial means of this type are included in parentheses. There are more models of aerial means that could be included in this typology, some of the best known are collected by way of example.