“It doesn’t matter if you’re under way to heaven or hell, you’ll still have to change in Atlanta!” No other saying expresses better the function of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia’s capital city. The airport is geographically located, that allows 80 % of the US population reachable within two hours flying time, Atlanta is the most important transfer airport in the USA:

  • 89 % of all flights to/from Atlanta are internal and 152 of the192 gates are reserved for this purpose.
  • At peak times, there are over 200 flights per hour and in 2019, Atlanta handled a total of 904,3011 aircraft movements.
  • Since 1998, the US hub leads the international passenger volume statistics. With the exception of the corona year 2020, as from 2015 the airport has handled more than a hundred million passengers annually. Atlanta is therefore the world’s busiest airport.

Total passengers in millions p.a.:2

World 4,397
North America 1,020
USA 926
Atlanta 110

1) Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: Business Information, Operation Statistics; 2019.

2) The World Bank: Air Transport Passengers, International Civil Aviation Organization, Civil Aviation Statistics of the World and ICAO staff estimates; 2019.


Only the best for the biggest

In 2019, Atlanta, Peking, Los Angeles, Dubai and Tokyo represented the ranking sequence of the world’s largest airports in terms of passenger volume and they all have one thing in common. As far as the “front line” of their ARFFs is concerned, they all rely on Rosenbauer’s flagship vehicle, the PANTHER. For example, the Airport Battalion of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department has had six PANTHERs in service for the past two years, which have long passed their baptism of fire and proven to be absolutely reliable in tough daily operations. As a consequence, the Airport has ordered another three PANTHERs with the result that from next year onwards its ARFF vehicle fleet will consist entirely of Rosenbauer ARFF vehicles.

Passengers in million p.a.:3

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 110.5
Beijing Capital International Airport 100.0
Los Angeles International Airport 8.,0
Dubai International Airport 86.4
Tokyo Haneda International Airport 85.5

3) Airport Council International: Annual World Airport Traffic Report; 2019.

Orlando, Miami, Houston, Nashville and Fort Lauderdale are other large US airports that operate PANTHERs in their fleet, including the United States Air Force, United States Army and the United States Coast Guard. The versatility of the series plays a decisive role in this connection, as for example the vehicles on 4×4 and 6×6 chassis can be delivered as compact versions suitable for air transport. In turn, the larger trucks with 6×6 and 8×8 chassis can be fitted with the Rosenbauer STINGER extinguishing arm and thus be augmented to form genuine quints. The extinguishing arm can be extended to 16.5m (20m as an option) and apart from a water/foam turret also carries a piercing tool for remote interior attacks utilizing penetration through the outer hull of the aircraft.


Performance that pays

PANTHER Atlanta AirportWhat makes the PANTHER particularly special is the perfect integration of its chassis, superstructure and extinguishing technology systems, which not only creates maximum driving dynamics and extinguishing performance, but also safety and reliability. When sprinting across an airport, the truck attains maximum speeds of up to 135 km/h and the uncompromising all-wheel drive system with rigid axles and coil springs gives a smooth ride even over rough ground. With a firefighting system output of up to 10,000 l/min, the extinguishing agent payload can be depleted in less than 120 seconds. The vehicle’s water/foam turrets have a range of up to 100 m and during pump & roll operation, the turrets and self-protection devices can be activated during the response.

Depending upon the axle configuration, (4×4, 6×6 or 8×8), a PANTHER carries between 7,000 and 19,000 l of extinguishing agents to the emergency scene. Moreover, the diversity of the extinguishing agents on board, means that fire services can successfully deal with any fire, irrespective of whether this involves burning kerosene, aluminum, or composite materials, etc.

The PANTHER (with High Reach Elevated Turret or HRET) at Atlanta International Airport:

Chassis Rosenbauer 39,700 6×6
Engine Volvo Penta D-16 (Tier IV final)
Performance 515 kW (700 hp)
Acceleration 0 – 80 km/h < 28 seconds
Top speed > 115 km/h
Extinguishing agent payload 11,356 l water, 1,598 l foam agents, 1,741 kg Halotron
Pump system outputa 8,516 l/min at 10 bar
HRETb cannon output RM65 6,000 l/min
HVLAc cannon output RM35 4,750 l/min
Dimensions L x B x H 11,710 x 3,000 x 3,650 m
Weight 39,000 kg

a) UL rated performance classified according to NFPA 1901 (2,250 gpm at 150 psi)

b) HRET: High Reach Extendable Turret (16.5 m, roof-mounted extinguishing arm)

c) HVLA: High Volume Low Attack, rotatable extinguishing arm in the underride guard)


Everything for safety

When responding to an alarm, the PANTHER crew is ideally protected in its crash-tested and ECE R29-3 certificated cabin. A high-strength X-frame also forms a safety cage around the occupants.  Optimum panorama vision is provided by generous glass areas in the cab and sufficient light is furnished by powerful halogen searchlights and scenelights, plus an integrated LED warning light system. In addition, the PANTHER can be equipped with a 360-degree Birdseye view camera, which gives the operator an overhead view of the area around the vehicle, and a FLIR camera for infrared images in poor visibility. As options, an Electronic Stability Control system (ESC) is available for enhanced driving safety along with a tire pressure monitoring system.

The PANTHER also carries a type of black box, like that used in aircraft, which supplies a permanent flow of data about the vehicle that covers its speed, lateral, longitudinal and vertical acceleration, the position of the accelerator pedal, the steering wheel angle, activation of the brake pedal, vehicle tilt and the operational duration and location.


Airport Battalion Atlanta

The Airport Battalion at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one of the seven units belonging to the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department. This is a professional fire service with around 1,100 employees, which has responsibility for the entire city area including the airport. The assignments of the Battalion not only include firefighting in the case of an aircraft accident, but also mobile and stationary fire protection in buildings and emergency medical services. On the 1,922 ha airport site, it operates five firehouses consisting of Station 24 on the taxiway to the two northern runways (26R + 26L), Station 32 in the terminal area (without ARFF vehicles), Stations 33 and 40 for the two southern runways (27R + 27L) and Station 35 in the cargo zone.

Mega-Airport-Hub Atlanta

Photo credit: CAPA, Centre for Aviation and OAG, analysis, reports, direct (red) and connecting (blue) routes from ATL, 2017.