Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli answered the questions on the controversial decisions of the government about forest fires. Responding to criticisms that fire-fighting aircraft are not used in forest fires, Pakdemirli stated, “The hourly cost of aircraft is 71 thousand lira, while the hourly cost of helicopters is 26 thousand lira”.
Pakdemirli argued that a ton of water poured into the flames for the helicopter was 1,300 lira, and for the plane, it was 7 thousand 944 lira. The minister also claimed that "the fleet of airplanes may have been used if they are of a certain quality, but that the aircraft is 6 times more expensive than the helicopter”.
Pakdemirli continued by stating, “I don't owe a penny to the Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK) as a ministry. We do these things by tender processes. I do not have to take this service from the THK."
DOCUMENTS REFUTE THE MINISTER: THK WAS READY TO FIGHT
Minister Bekir Pakdemirli also stated that 3 of the aircraft that were not used in İzmir fire did not have engines and that the other three were leaking oil.
According to Tuncay Mollaveisoğlu from Cumhuriyet daily, the claims of the minister is denied by the documents issued by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The DGCA issued a certificate of conformity for the five aircraft owned by the THK.
The THK, despite being excluded from the fire extinguishing process, still made preparations for the 5 aircraft, and received the certificate of airworthiness from the General Directorate of Civil Aviation. Although THK was ready, the Ministry of Forestry and Pakdemirli still did not invite THK to fight the fire.
A senior THK official stated, “Our fire fighting planes are neither broken, old, nor oil-leaking,” and continued, “We haven't had any conversations about financial concerns with anyone. Our five planes were ready, if they told us to come, we would help immediately. We don't consider the tender, nor the money. THK is not a company. We are out of politics. 4 of the aircraft are 1980 models, others are 1970s. There are no old planes in aviation, only neglected ones.”