Why register? ...To Enhance Your Experience
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 25
  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber ramseycl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Next to the big ditch
    Posts
    489

    Default All Federal Air Tankers Grounded

    Governor Richardson says he is furious about a federal decision to ground its aging fleet of 33 air tankers used to fight forest fires and vows he will fight it.

    Just as the 2004 wildfire season opens, the Forest Service and the Interior Department terminated contracts Monday with private companies for use of the former military planes after the National Transportation Safety Board determined their airworthiness could be not assured. Three such planes crashed between 1994 and 2002, killing seven crewmembers.

    Forest Service officials say that, in the wake of the NTSB report, continuing to use the tankers posed “an unacceptable risk” to aviators, ground firefighters and communities near the blazes.

    “Safety is behind all of this,” said Forest Service spokesman Lynn Young. “We don’t want to get anybody killed trying to put out a fire, whether it be a pilot or a person on the ground.”

    The fixed-wing planes, some of them as old as 60 years, had been used primarily in initial attacks on fires and protecting buildings when fires were moving toward urban areas. The tankers were each capable of dumping from 1,700 to 2,500 gallons of water a minute.

    Forest Service says it still has the use of 491 other aircraft, including smaller fixed-wing planes and helicopters.

    But Governor Richardson says that is not enough. Richardson told Eyewitness News 4 Monday he plans to take immediate action to try to reverse the grounding of air tankers.

    “This is an incredibly dumb decision,” said Richardson. “We want to have safety for the crews, but they should have had a contingency plan. What is ‘Plan B.’”

    The governor says the Forest Service has known about its aging air tankers for some time and is upset the decision to ground the fleet comes just as the new wildfire season is starting.

    “To get rid of air tankers right now without a contingency plan, without any consultation, this is the worst possible decision for us,” he said.

    Young says air tankers have been effective on a first attack on forest fires but that the planes don’t put out fires, ground crews do.

    “We’ve got a lot of other firefighting sources,” said Young. “So, we’ve just got to kind of strategize how they can best be placed and how we can get along without using the heavy air tanker tool.”

    The Forest Service says there are discussions as to using Blackhawk helicopters and C-130 planes to fight fires.

    Governor Richardson, who is also chairman of the Western Governors Association, says he plans to organize a protest with other states. He says he also wants to organize emergency funding and planes.


  2. #2
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal forest officials said Tuesday they
    will rely on military planes, along with other, smaller aircraft,
    to fight forest fires after grounding large air tankers this week
    because of safety concerns.
    Firefighting agencies will use as many as eight military C-130
    planes along with water-carrying helicopters and fixed-wing planes
    akin to crop-dusters, officials said.
    It will cost anywhere from $26 million to $40 million to replace
    the big tankers, including costs to terminate the existing
    contracts, which had been signed though the 2004 fire season, said
    Mark Rey, the Agriculture undersecretary who directs forest policy.
    "We will not be short-handed. We will have to stretch to
    reconfigure, but we should be just fine," Rey told the Senate
    Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.
    Some lawmakers were unconvinced.
    "I seriously doubt your agency will able to fight fires
    effectively and efficiently," said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky.
    "I don't think there is any question that we are obviously
    facing a tough year," said Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo. "If you
    reduce your ability to fight fires, you are going to have a
    problem."
    Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., said he worried that tanker
    companies with good safety records, such as Montana-based Neptune
    Aviation Services, were being "punished for the safety missteps of
    others."
    Rey denied that and said officials grounded the tankers after
    concluding they did not have enough expertise to ensure that the
    privately owned planes were safe to fly.
    "To continue to use these large air tankers when no mechanism
    exists to ensure their airworthiness presents an unacceptable level
    of risk to aviators, the firefighters on the ground and the
    communities that we serve," Rey said.
    The head of an association that represents air tanker companies
    said officials were condemning companies throughout the West to
    bankruptcy. Aircraft contractors are located in Arizona,
    California, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming, with subsidiaries in
    several other states.
    "I just feel they've walked away from this whole issue and not
    properly addressed it," said Bill Broadwell, executive director of
    the Aerial Firefighting Industry Association. "They could have
    done better."
    The 33 large, fixed-wing tankers - each of which can drop as
    much as 3,000 gallons of fire-retardant slurry on a blaze - make up
    less than 10 percent of the aerial firefighting fleet, which also
    includes more than 400 helicopters, smaller single-engine tankers
    and lead planes.
    The big "fire bombers," though, have come to symbolize to the
    public that a wildfire is being fought vigorously.
    That image suffered in recent years, as three planes crashed
    between 1994 and 2002, killing seven crew members. After two planes
    went down in 2002, the Forest Service grounded the tanker fleet.
    The planes were returned to service after a new inspection system
    was developed.
    But last month, the National Transportation Safety Board said
    the safety and airworthiness of the fleet still could not be
    assured. The agency said information on the stresses that the
    planes underwent in fighting fires was incomplete, and there were
    gaps in maintenance and inspection records dating back to the
    planes' military use. The planes' average age is nearly 50 years,
    and some are as old as 60 years.
    Broadwell, the industry representative, questioned how federal
    officials could be confident that smaller aircraft can safely fight
    fires.
    "If they don't have the expertise to manage large air tankers,
    what gives them expertise to manage helicopters or single-engine
    air tankers?" he asked.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov
    Aerial Firefighting Industry Association: http://www.afia.com

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  3. #3
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Single-engine air tankers and helicopters
    will be used in Montana and Wyoming to help fill the void created
    by the federal government's decision this week to ground a fleet of
    aging air tankers, fire officials in the region said Tuesday.
    But some also are expressing concerns with the availability of
    aircraft during what many expect will be a busy fire season. Air
    tankers that were grounded for safety reasons were largely used in
    initial attacks on wildfires.
    "I totally support what the federal agencies did. Knowing the
    issues with the aircraft, they couldn't take a risk," Ray
    Weidenhaft, fire management officer at the Wyoming State Forestry
    Division, said Tuesday. "But I just can't believe it won't impact
    us dramatically because there are only so many helicopters and
    single-engine air tankers available."
    On Monday, the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior
    said they were terminating the contract for 33 large air tankers
    because of concerns with airworthiness and safety. The decision
    followed an April 23 report by the National Transportation Safety
    Board on three air tanker accidents, the agencies said.
    Gov. Judy Martz, in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann
    Veneman, said there must be other options and that she would be
    working with other Western governors to find "reasonable solutions
    to this problem."
    "Grounding the fleet indefinitely creates a void in our
    firefighting strategy that will be difficult to fill and could
    exacerbate problems related to the safety of our firefighting
    forces," Martz wrote.
    Though their availability for any given wildfire wasn't assured
    - factors such as the priority given to individual fires figured in
    - the large air tankers were especially helpful in knocking down
    fires before they grew extensively, said Bob Harrington, Montana's
    state forester. In Montana, sporadic fires already have broken out,
    and a large tanker was used a few days ago on a wildfire in
    south-central Montana, he said.
    "There's no question it will have a significant effect on our
    ability to suppress fires," Harrington said. However, "we're
    trying to do the best we can to respond to the new reality."
    He said he envisions the use of a combination of resources and
    cooperation among states and various agencies to share what
    resources are available. Among the possible options are use of
    single-engine air tankers, with smaller capacity for water and
    retardant than the large air tankers, "water scooper" planes and
    large helicopters, he said. Resources could also be pre-positioned
    on the ground to aid in initial attacks, he said.
    While National Guard helicopters proved a big help last year,
    their availability this fire season is in question because of the
    war in Iraq, Harrington said.
    In Wyoming, Weidenhaft said officials will try to be more
    aggressive on early attacks. But he said he realizes competition
    for aircraft - one aspect of firefighting - could be intense. He
    said fires will probably burn more acres in some remote areas and
    in places where it's difficult to get crews.
    "It's difficult to plan," Weidenhaft said. "It would be
    really nice if we knew when and where fires were going to start."
    Rich Homann, fire division supervisor with the Colorado State
    Forest Service, said officials are prepared for an
    "above-average" fire season. Resources available include
    single-engine air tankers and inmate crews.
    As in the other states, firefighters on the local county level
    also play an important part in initial attacks, he said.
    Homann said the large air tankers were a "good tool" but just
    one available to fire managers.
    "The termination of the federal tankers does take 33 pieces of
    equipment out of service that may have been used on fires and the
    fire community will adapt," he said.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    AP-NY-05-11-04 2305EDT
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 1998
    Location
    Black Hawk VFD, South Dakota
    Posts
    629

    Default

    The April issue of Air International magazine reports Hawkins and Powers has ordered eight Russian built Be 200 amphibious firefighting aircraft. They will be built with Rolls Royce engines instead of the Russian engine. It is estimated that it will take four years to obtain FAA and European certification so it will be 2008 before they arrive.


    The aircraft are jet powered nd have the ability to "scoop" water.

    http://www.aerospace-technology.com/projects/index.html

    Scroll down to the regional jets section and click on the Be 200 link for more info on the aircraft.

    Stay Safe
    IACOJ
    Last edited by Rayr49; 05-13-2004 at 10:54 PM.

  5. #5
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Default

    Originally posted by Rayr49
    The April issue of Air International magazine reports Hawkins and Powers has ordered eight Russian built Be 200 amphibious firefighting aircraft.
    Apparently, Hawkins and Powers have every intention of staying in the aerial firefighting business. I hope they receive the support of the US agencies that award the firefighting contracts.

    If the government can spend billions of dollars fighting the enemy in Iraq....why can't they spend a mere fraction of that...fighting our enemy in the forests? It's time for some appropriation of funds for aerial firefighting updates that are long overdue.

    Thanks for the info Rayr49!
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    193

    Default

    Deplorable Safety Record of Firefighting Aircraft Scored in Report

    For people really into this stuff, here's a piece
    from the venerable Air Safety Week publication.

    It tends to be long, but shorter than the reams
    of (hand-wringing) material that led to this publication.

    Note that one of the conclusions is, Canada runs aerial
    ops with far more integrity than the US Forest Service
    managed to do.

    Oddly enough, Canada has conceded all decision-making
    on the Il-76 waterbomber to the US Forest Service, which
    had seen maybe two runs of the IL-76 waterbomber in action
    before the 2002 NATO exercise, pictured here, where 60
    Americans were present: http://www.nato.int/pictures/2002/020925b/b020925g.jpg

    The Aussies ran a full five (5) days of tests on the
    IL-76. They conclude the IL-76 is a very, very good
    firefighting aircraft
    (Google that for the newspaper
    article.)

    Australia's groundpounder-inclined firefighter culture
    finds it difficult to admit large air tankers are useful.
    Australia has never had a large air tanker although public
    support for (more expensive) large helicopters remains firm.

    As well, Australia suffers from a constitution that, like
    Canada's, vests firefighting power decisions with the States/Provinces.

    It follows that developing a national fire plan around a truly strategic firefighting appliance like the IL-76 is very, very difficult. Adopting short hop choppers suits State authorities,
    who pay lip service to a national fire plan, rather better.

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    193

    Default What the Forest Service was telling people in September

    Large air tankers to be tested in the USA.

    The Forest Service had been telling people that the FAA
    had jurisdiction over the IL-76 waterbomber when the FAA
    didn't even have jurisdiction over US air tankers.

    Now, some ad hoc FAA procedure appears to be
    coming into play for the retired 33 large air tankers
    while Evergreen is telling people it expects to receive
    large air tanker certification (whatever that is}
    by July, based on test runs on tanks no larger than those
    of the Il-76 waterbomber, in mission service thoughout
    the 90s.

  8. #8
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post

    Other assets earmarked for Black Hills fires
    wmosdrap
    RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Although a fleet of heavy air tankers
    won't be available in the foreseeable future, an official with the
    Black Hills National Forest said other assets will be available to
    fight fires in the forest in southwest South Dakota and northeast
    Wyoming.
    Citing safety concerns with the aging planes, the U.S. Forest
    Service and Interior Department on May 10 indefinitely grounded 33
    airplanes that had been used to drop fire retardants on wildfires.
    Dean Burger, fire management officer for the Black Hills
    National Forest, told the Pennington County Commission on Tuesday
    that discussion about the heavy air tankers is going on at the
    Washington, D.C., level and that Congress has gotten involved.
    Burger said a contract has been awarded to a private corporation
    to inspect the fleet of heavy air tankers to certify the planes'
    airworthiness.
    "As far as a timeline of when these air tankers will be in the
    air, I have nothing to tell you other than there's a lot of
    pressure at the top about it," Burger said. "Congress is actively
    involved in trying to get something worked out."
    Firefighter safety is the top priority for federal agencies,
    Burger said, and the mandate is to protect firefighters whether
    they are in the air or on the ground.
    Federal agencies are doing everything they can to increase the
    number of other aviation assets available for fire suppression
    needs across the country, he said.
    Some examples Burger cited include five medium-sized helicopters
    under contract, one of which will be placed in the Black Hills.
    Additionally, heavy helicopters will be available for urban
    interface fires, which Burger said are probably as effective in
    protecting structures due to their accuracy, and there will be
    another single-engine air tanker placed in the Black Hills.
    "They're not the same tool as the heavy air tanker; they don't
    carry the same payload, but they are an additional asset," Burger
    said.
    Tactics and strategies will have to change a little bit without
    the heavy air tanker, but Burger said the job of fighting fires
    will still get done.
    "We think we're putting some resources in place, other
    resources in the tool box, that are going to make us just as
    successful as far as our local suppression response," he said.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    193

    Default

    Dean Burger, eh?

    Is Dean Burger related to David Burger,
    reporter, who put this piece Arson by Omission together?

    Were you aware that in 1995, the US Forest
    Service called IL-76 an Emergency
    Supplemental Air Tanker
    in a 35-page
    report they wrote following a short test in the
    UK? Just hang some paint on it, install a radio,
    and go, they said.

    Since that time, the US Forest Service issued a
    series of mind-bogglingly idiotic comments on why
    the US isn't using the IL-76.

    Look at the comments of the Ca. USFS spokesman in the
    David Burger piece. He actually thought the IL-76
    was a (salt water) scooper. How much money does the US
    government pay a guy like that?

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    193

    Default

    Pardon me for posting back-to-back
    but at this point, I believe it's useful
    to post an Associated Press recap of
    SoCal damages from 2003. Too many people
    simply like to brush data like this aside:

    Key Facts About So. California Wildfires
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Published: November 2, 2003
    Filed at 5:08 p.m. ET

    A quick look at Southern California wildfires:
    Acres burned: 745,950.
    Homes destroyed: 3,495.
    Deaths: 20.
    Firefighting personnel: About 11,000.
    Injuries: 185.
    Number of fires reported since Oct. 21: 13.
    Fires not fully contained: 5.

  11. #11
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post

    MINDEN, Nev. (AP) - The owners of two grounded air tankers in
    Minden believe the 7,600 acre Waterfall fire in Carson City could
    have been slowed at the outset if their firefighting planes were
    allowed to fly.
    Inspections began Monday of the air tankers owned by Minden Air
    Corp. to determine if they are safe to fly.
    "We feel very strongly that if we had been called, the fire
    wouldn't have gotten out of control," said Janet Parker, Minden
    Air Corp. president and co-owner. "The damage would have been far
    less."
    But a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said its unlikely the
    additional tankers could have stalled the fire that broke out last
    Wednesday and raged out of control for two days, destroying 15
    homes and one business.
    "Based on the resources that were dispatched to the fire, it's
    hard to believe that any additional heavy air tankers would have
    made a difference," said Christie Kalkowski, spokeswoman for the
    Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
    Kalkowski said other conditions including temperatures, wind and
    drought have to be taken into consideration in battling such an
    intense blaze.
    Minden Air Corp.'s two former Navy planes are among 33 heavy
    tankers nationwide that were grounded by the Forest Service in May
    because of safety concerns.
    Western states, worried about the ongoing drought and prospects
    for a severe fire season, prompted the federal agency to adopt a
    revised safety inspection program in an effort to get some of the
    planes back in the air.
    Seven of the heavy tankers, all owned by Chico, Calif.-based
    Aero Union, have been certified to fly. Three of the company's P-3
    Orions worked the Waterfall Fire.
    An inspection of Minden Air Corp.'s two P-2 aircraft - former
    Navy planes a little older than the P-3s - is expected to last two
    to three days, said Dave Wardall, deputy chief of aircraft
    maintenance and engineering for the California Department of
    Forestry and Fire Protection.
    Wardall said he was assigned to Fort Worth, Texas-based DynCorp
    Technical Services under contract to the Forest Service to assess
    the condition of the Minden aircraft.
    He said the four-person inspection team will analyze maintenance
    records and physically inspect the planes before submitting a
    report.
    The Forest Service said a decision on the Minden tankers could
    be made by the end of the week.
    Capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant, the
    large tankers have played a critical role in fighting wildland
    fires around the West.
    But three of the big bombers crashed between 1994 and 2002,
    killing seven crew members. After two planes went down in 2002, the
    Forest Service grounded the fleet.
    The planes were returned to service after a new inspection
    system was developed but 10 of the tankers remained grounded last
    fire season.
    ---
    Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  12. #12
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Federal officials denied requests by two
    companies to return several large air tankers to service to fight
    wildfires on Monday, saying additional information was needed on
    the life of the planes.
    Officials lacked information on "operational life limit" of
    aircraft operated by Neptune Aviation, of Missoula, Mont., and
    Minden Air Corp., of Minden, Nev., one of the criteria needed to
    help prove the air tankers airworthy, said Rose Davis, a
    spokeswoman at the National Interagency Fire Center.
    If officials received the information - and Davis said they
    continue trying - they would reconsider returning the air tankers
    to service, she said.
    Right now, "we don't have the stuff from when they were a young
    airplane to see what they've been through already," she said.
    Without knowing how many hours have been attributed to the
    airframe, she said, officials can't determine how long the aircraft
    is "supposed to live."
    Both companies operate planes known as P2Vs, Davis said, and
    manufacturer Lockheed Martin may have the information available but
    it is considered proprietary.
    The decisions to keep the planes grounded were made by officials
    from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, Davis
    said.
    In May, the Forest Service and Interior said they were ending
    the contract for 33 air tankers because of concerns with
    airworthiness and public safety. That decision came after an April
    23 report by the National Transportation Safety Board on three air
    tanker crashes.
    Federal officials later said some of the air tankers could be
    used to help fight fires this summer if their operators could prove
    they are safe to fly. In June, the Forest Service signed an
    agreement with DynCorp Technical Services, a Texas-based firm, to
    help in analyzing airworthiness documentation provided by operators
    of the large air tankers.
    Officials earlier announced that air tankers owned by
    California's Aero Union Corp., had been approved, and Davis said
    Monday that decisions on requests by other companies are likely in
    the next couple weeks.
    Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Monday that he will work to
    launch a congressional investigation into how the decision
    affecting Neptune was made, saying he's not convinced the Montana
    company received a "fair shake."
    "They haven't been treated fairly, and this decision flies in
    the face of everyone who has been working to get them back in the
    air," Baucus said in a statement.
    Davis said officials were consistent in the criteria the
    companies needed to meet. However, operational "life limit data"
    will vary depending on the type of airplane a company uses, she
    said.
    Discussions will continue with Lockheed Martin to see if there
    are ways to secure the data, and Monday's decision does not
    completely "shut the door" on either company getting air tankers
    back in service this fire season, Davis said. Still, she said, it
    is not clear what kind of information might exist.
    Janet Parker, president of Minden Air, the only private air
    tanker company in Nevada, said she's trying to be hopeful. So far,
    she said there have been no layoffs at the business but it's a
    possibility she may soon have to consider.
    "This is our livelihood," she said Monday. The company was
    hoping to have two of its tankers approved for flight.
    "We're generated enough documents that prove our aircraft are
    safe. There's nothing that shows there's any problem with them in
    the fatigue area," she said.
    Minden Air's two former Navy twin-engine planes were built in
    the late 1950s and are capable of dropping as much as 3,000 gallons
    of fire-retardant slurry on a blaze.
    Officials at Neptune Aviation did not immediately return a phone
    call seeking comment.
    ---
    On the Net:
    http://www.neptuneaviation.com
    http://www.mindenair.com

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  13. #13
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post SEATS

    LAKEVIEW, Ore. (AP) - Under a hot high desert sun, three red and
    white planes that resemble World War II-era P-51 fighters stand at
    the ready on the apron of a tiny airport, their pilots and ground
    crews reading paperback novels and chatting in the shade of a tarp.
    When a fire call comes in to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
    air tanker base here, the pilots can be in the air in eight
    minutes, following a Global Positioning System heading to a fire
    with a 500-gallon load of pink sticky fire retardant to buy time
    for the ground crews that will actually put out the blaze.
    "Where we shine is rapid response," said Dale Campbell, 70, of
    Sun City, Ariz., who started crop dusting in 1982 and has been
    flying fires since 1991. "We operate 60 feet off the vegetation.
    The average drop speed is 120 mph.
    "We can go direct on the flames and paint 1,000 feet of line
    per load," said Campbell, who flies for Western Pilot Service of
    Phoenix, Ariz. "If we have a (ground) crew working behind us
    mopping up, we can get around a fire pretty quick."
    These are Single Engine Air Tankers - known as SEATS - modern
    crop dusters converted to firefighting duty. They are helping take
    up the slack since most of the nation's aging fleet of heavy air
    tankers was grounded over safety issues and are part of a strategic
    shift of firefighting aircraft toward initial attack - stopping
    fires while they are still small - rather than pounding away at the
    ones that get big.
    Fire bosses say the heavy air tankers still have their place
    delivering 3,000-gallon payloads at long distances to penetrate
    heavy timber. But for quickly controlling small fires in juniper
    and sagebrush after lightning moves through, the smaller and more
    numerous SEATs can be a better tool, particularly when positioned
    ahead of time close to the anticipated fires.
    BLM started experimenting with a Dromadier M18 - a Polish-built
    crop duster - in 1984 out of Hemet, Calif., recalls Mark Bickham,
    the SEAT program manager at the National Interagency Fire Center in
    Boise, Idaho.
    A year later, Bickham heard about them while working as a
    helicopter manager for the U.S. Forest Service in Wyoming, and
    wrote a white paper recommending his agency start using them.
    He went down to the Joshua Tree National Monument in 1986 when a
    SEAT worked a fire for BLM. That year BLM contracted for seven of
    the aircraft, mostly in the Southwest. The fleet grew to 11 in
    1995, 27 in 2000 and 67 in 2003. This year, with most of the heavy
    air tankers grounded, 76 are under contract, 36 of them Air Tractor
    802 turboprops with an 800-gallon payload.
    "We really need all the tools in the tool box to get this job
    done as safely, effectively and efficiently as possible. When one
    falls out you've got to try and fill in the gaps, not as a
    replacement, but as a supplement.
    "We have changed the way we fight fire. We send the airplanes
    out sooner. We move them from base to base to get closer to where
    the fire activity is."
    Through the complicated system of contracting - some planes are
    on full-time standby, while others are on call - SEAT use is likely
    to double nationally this year, from $10 million to $20 million,
    though the number of planes is up only 13 percent, Bickham said.
    The planes start in the Southwest in the spring and follow the
    fires north and west through the summer and fall.
    Heavier tankers are much more expensive to operate, costing
    $4,500 a day on standby and $2,500 an hour flying. SEATS cost
    $1,000 to $1,600 a day, whether they are flying or standing by,
    said Nancy Lull, spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire
    Center.
    This year saw the first two fatalities in SEATs. One crashed
    fighting a fire near Cedar City, Utah, another en route to the SEAT
    training center in Safford, Ariz. Causes remain under
    investigation.
    Last May, the Forest Service and BLM sparked a public uproar
    when they canceled $30 million in contracts for 33 heavy air
    tankers, citing safety concerns after two planes broke up in midair
    in 2002, killing five people. Six had been slated for Oregon, and
    one for Washington. Since then seven have been certified as
    air-worthy, but only one for the Northwest, based at Moses Lake,
    Wash.
    To fill the gap, the state of Oregon hired four heavy air
    tankers and the Forest Service and BLM boosted the fleet of SEATs
    and helicopters. SEATS for Oregon and Washington doubled, from
    seven to 14, spread around the high desert east of the Cascades.
    Helicopters went up from 13 to 32, and are stationed both east and
    west of the Cascades.
    Gerry Day heads the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in
    Portland, which juggles firefighting resources for Oregon and
    Washington. He misses the heavy air tankers, but has been happy
    with the way SEATs and helicopters have filled the gap since fire
    managers made a conscious decision this year to focus them on
    initial attack, rather than big project fires.
    Through July, Oregon and Washington have seen 2,100 fires, 16
    percent above average, but on only 65,000 acres, 50 percent below
    average. They are catching up to 99 percent of the fires that
    start, compared to 98 percent in a typical year, Day said.
    Day attributes that partly to good luck - many of the lightning
    storms that started fires also dropped rain. But he also has more
    aircraft to work with, and has focused them on initial attack
    rather than fighting big fires. When weather reports call for
    lighting storms in a certain area, they are routinely
    pre-positioned to be close to the action.
    "We decided it was a good business decision," he said. "That
    couple of fires that don't become large fires - that's a savings
    often times in the millions of dollars."
    Mike Evans, fire staff officer for BLM and Forest Service in
    Lakeview, recalls a fire a couple years ago when SEATS delivered
    more retardant than the big air tankers, because they were closer,
    returning to the fire every nine minutes out of Lakeview, compared
    to 50 minutes for the heavy tankers flying out of Klamath Falls,
    about 100 miles to the west.
    "The farther east you get from us, the more of a factor that
    becomes," said Evans. "In the fuels we have, grasses and sage
    brush, SEATS are real effective."
    Like helicopters, the SEATS also have the advantage of requiring
    only a short runway. They can land on a stretch of gravel road,
    allowing ground crews to haul in retardant and fuel for remote
    fires.
    "If you can get down it in a pickup at 70 mph, we can get down
    on it," said Campbell.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    Now, I predict....a word from your friendly IL-76 salesperson. (on my ignore list)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  14. #14
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post Investigation begins

    National Transportation Safety Board
    Washington, DC 20594

    April 21, 2005

    ****************************** ******************************
    NTSB DISPATCHES TEAM TO INVESTIGATE
    CRASH OF FIREFIGHTING AIRCRAFT IN CALIFORNIA

    ****************************** ******************************

    The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a
    team to begin an investigation into the crash of a
    firefighting aircraft in California that killed all three
    crewmembers aboard.

    At approximately 6:50 p.m., PDT, Wednesday, April 20,
    a Lockheed P-3B air tanker, N926AU, owned and operated by
    the Aero Union Corporation of Chico, California, crashed
    immediately following a fire retardant training drop near
    Chico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

    According to the company, the accident flight was the
    seventh flight of the day for that aircraft. The purpose of
    the flights was to conduct qualification checks for pilots
    who were scheduled to conduct firefighting operations during
    the upcoming fire season. The aircraft was manufactured in
    1966 and was formerly operated by the United States Navy.
    It was powered by four Allison T56A11 turboprop engines.

    Senior air safety investigator Georgia Struhsaker,
    from the NTSB's Seattle regional office, will lead the team
    as Investigator-in-Charge. She will be joined by four NTSB
    investigators, with assistance from representatives of the
    Federal Aviation Administration, Lockheed Aircraft
    Corporation, and the Aero Union Corporation. Rolls Royce
    (Allison) Engines will also be offered party status. NTSB
    Member Ellen Engleman Conners will accompany the team and
    serve as principal spokesperson for the on-scene
    investigation. Paul Schlamm is also accompanying the team
    as press officer.

    The Safety Board issued 5 recommendations (A-04-29
    through 33) last year to the Department of Agriculture, the
    Department of Interior and the Federal Aviation
    Administration as a result of several accidents involving
    structural failure of firefighting aircraft (it is unknown
    at this time if yesterday's accident is related to
    structural failure). Those recommendations may be found on
    the Board's web site via the following link:
    http://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/200...5F29%5F33.pdf.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  15. #15
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post Related Story

    CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Family members of two men killed in a plane
    crash while fighting a Colorado wildfire sued six federal agencies,
    saying the agencies allowed lax airplane maintenance.
    The amended lawsuit added the Agriculture, Interior and
    Transportation departments, the Bureau of Land Management, the
    Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Forest Service,
    according to U.S. District Court records. Hawkins & Powers Aviation
    Inc. already was named as a defendant.
    The lawsuit says federal agencies saved money by relying for
    decades on private contractors, such as Hawkins and Powers, and
    encouraged those contractors to fly older aircraft.
    "All of these policies, and many others, demonstrate that the
    U.S. Forest Service and its employees were completely responsible
    for updating the maintenance schedules of the P4Y-2 as that plane
    underwent extensive (and improper) modifications in order to serve
    as a fire fighting bombardier aircraft," the lawsuit said.
    As of Friday, the federal government had not yet responded to
    the lawsuit. Hawkins & Powers has denied responsibility in previous
    court filings.
    Pilot Rich Schwartz, of Ulm, Mont., and co-pilot Milton Stollak,
    of Cathedral City, Calif., died July 18, 2002, when the left wing
    fell of their plane, igniting fuel and sending the plane crashing
    to the ground in northern Colorado. Schwartz and Stollak were
    fighting the Big Elk fire near Estes Park, Colo.
    Last year, federal air safety inspectors determined that an
    18-inch crack in a wing support caused the World War II-era plane
    to crash, confirming the results of a Forest Service report a year
    earlier.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  16. #16
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post

    By BRIAN MELLEY
    Associated Press Writer
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - National forest officials were
    optimistic Friday that early findings in the fatal crash of an air
    tanker in Northern California would not ground the federal
    firefighting air fleet this summer, a spokesman said.
    An initial review of the fiery crash that killed three pilots
    Wednesday in the rugged mountains of the Lassen National Forest
    found all the wreckage within a two-acre burn zone, said Paul
    Schlamm, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman.
    That observation renewed confidence in plans by federal
    firefighting officials to return more air tankers to the skies for
    the West's wildfire season, said Matt Mathes, a U.S. Forest Service
    spokesman.
    "At first glance, it sounds as if there was not a structural
    problem in the air," Mathes said. "This is certainly a promising
    development. We're going to wait for more information as the
    investigation proceeds, but we are cautiously optimistic."
    Last May, the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the
    Interior terminated contracts for 33 large air tankers, citing
    concerns with public safety after two different types of air
    tankers broke up in midair in 2002.
    But the government agreed to reinstate some planes after
    extensive testing at the urging of air tanker contractors led by
    Aero Union Corp. of Chico, which owned the plane that crashed
    Wednesday and had a good safety record.
    The plane, a P-3 Orion built for the Navy in 1966 and flown by
    an experienced crew, was one of 10 air tankers approved for federal
    firefighting contracts Monday.
    "We put that particular plane through two kinds of tests,"
    said Mathes. "It has passed every single test we can give it."
    Air tankers are a small part of the federal firefighting air
    fleet, but are considered indispensable by Western lawmakers who
    have criticized previous groundings and lobbied hard to bring them
    back into service during the wildfire season.
    More and more, they are being displaced by a much larger fleet
    of helicopters, which can be more effective, Mathes said.
    Helicopters can accurately drop water or fire retardant directly
    on targets, they don't have to land to refill and their focused
    drop can penetrate deeper into forests with greater force.
    There are 700 helicopters in the federal fleet, including some
    that can carry 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant - the same
    payload as the largest tankers.
    "What's being lost in all this is that air tankers don't put
    fires out," Mathes said. "What they do is they slow the fire down
    so the men and women on the ground can get a handle on the fire and
    get a line around it."
    More than a dozen federal investigators worked at the scene of
    the crash 120 miles north of Sacramento and reviewed pilot logs and
    maintenance records at the Chico airport, where the plane had
    successfully returned from six missions earlier in the day
    Wednesday.
    The NTSB did not reach any early conclusions and had not ruled
    anything out, Schlamm said.
    The Aero Union plane left the airport with 2,500 gallons of
    water, but it was not clear if it had dropped the water before the
    crash, he said. In earlier statements, the NTSB said the plane
    crashed immediately after dropping its load.
    Investigators spent the day documenting and diagramming the
    wreckage area. By late Friday, Schlamm said, they had identified
    the badly burnt remnants of the entire plane, including the four
    engines, control surfaces and so-called four corners of the plane:
    the nose, tail and wing tips.
    An examination of the engines revealed that they were producing
    power when the plane crashed, Schlamm said.
    In the previous crashes that resulted in the grounding of the
    tanker fleet, the planes broke apart in midflight, leaving the
    wings far from the rest of the wreckage.
    The company said the crew members killed were all experienced
    pilots: Brian Bruns, 45, of Minden, Nev.; Paul Cockrell, 52, of
    Fresno; and Thomas Lynch, 41, of Redding. Lynch was the company's
    chief pilot.
    Lynch's wife, Lori, said she worried about her husband from the
    day she met him and even tried to persuade him to do something
    else.
    "He wanted to be out there on the runways and close to that
    fire," Lori Lynch told the Redding Record Searchlight newspaper.
    "Once you get that in your blood, you can't get it out."
    Cockrell's brother, Gary Cockrell, was killed piloting an Aero
    Union air tanker 10 years ago in a collision with a Forest Service
    plane as they both prepared to land at a Southern California
    airport after fighting a state park fire. Three pilots were killed
    in the crash, which was the last tragedy involving Aero Union.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Aero Union: http://www.aerounion.com/
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  17. #17
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Unhappy

    CHICO, Calif. (AP) - Firefighters from across the nation sent
    condolence letters and joined roughly 350 people at a memorial
    service to remember three pilots who died April 20 when their air
    tanker crashed on a training flight near Lassen National Forest.
    Messages piled on a table and pinned to a wall inside an
    aircraft hangar made the point that Aero Union chief pilot Tom
    Lynch, 42, Brian Bruns, 47, and Paul Cockrell, 52, served the
    nation when they dropped retardant on wildfires each summer.
    "I'm inspired by those who give their lives in service to
    others," said Pastor Greg Cootsona of Bidwell Presbyterian Church.
    "Their daily work was an act of courage."
    Ron Hunter, Aero Union's director of flight operations, said
    Cockrell, the father of two children, was a quiet family man with a
    strong religious faith and a love of the outdoors.
    Bruns was a practical joker with a heart of gold, Hunter said.
    The former Navy commander flew in the Gulf War; his old squadron
    from Point Magu sent an honor guard and officers presented the
    pilots' families with folded American flags.
    Lynch "was more comfortable in the cockpit than he ever was
    flying a desk," Hunter said.
    Though he was in charge of training and qualifying other crew
    members for firefighting duties, "He didn't get to fly as much as
    he would like since he took the chief pilot's job," said Lynch's
    widow, Lori. "He just liked getting in there putting out fires."
    A single bell was rung at the end of Wednesday's service - once
    a common practice for firefighters to signal the completion of
    duties at a fire scene.
    The crash of the P-3 Orion, the company's first since 1995, is
    being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  18. #18
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    193

    Default

    AP's not where it's at.

    Geissinger's where it's at.

    Use GoogleNews or YahooNews in
    association with the following
    search terms to get to the real
    news on "air tankers", commonly
    referred to in Canada as
    waterbombers
    :

    Geissinger

    Rorabacher

    Schwarzenegger

    Weldon

    Robinson

    tankers


    Mix your search term combos for
    best results.

  19. #19
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post Update

    By JOHN HEILPRIN
    Associated Press Writer
    WASHINGTON (AP) -The Forest Service will reinstate a fleet of 25
    heavy tankers and other large aircraft to join hundreds of smaller
    planes and helicopters in combatting what is expected to be another
    tough wildfire season this summer.
    Officials said Thursday that despite some recent safety
    concerns, they have contracted to use nine P2V tankers and seven
    former Navy P-3 Orions to fight wildfires across the West. The
    large fixed-wing aircraft can drop up to 3,000 gallons of chemical
    fire retardant on blazes.
    Seven of the P2V tankers are owned by Neptune Aviation in
    Missoula, Mont.
    In addition, a former Douglas DC7 propeller airliner,
    retrofitted with fire monitoring equipment, will be used to gather
    data on wildfires. Eight of the military's enormous C-130 transport
    planes, each outfitted with firefighting gear, are being made
    available for use.
    Those 25 larger aircraft will be deployed around the nation,
    along with six large helitankers and large helicopters and more
    than 700 smaller choppers and planes.
    On April 20, a P-3 air tanker crashed in Northern California,
    killing all three pilots in the Lassen National Forest. The air
    tanker crashed during a training flight. There has been no
    indication the plane suffered structural failure in flight.
    "Aerial firefighting is an inherently high-risk business,"
    Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who directs U.S. forest
    policy, said Thursday. "Our job is to minimize that risk."
    Rey said routine inspections would being done to check "areas
    of particular concern," including the chances of "catastrophic
    metal fatigue" among parts of the aging aircraft.
    "If we find some evidence of cracking, we'll replace the part.
    But that alone shouldn't ground the aircraft," he said.
    Nina Hatfield, an Interior Department deputy assistant
    secretary, said the contracted aircraft is of particular help in
    determining how each fire is managed.
    Last year, the Forest Service and Interior Department terminated
    $30 million in contracts with private companies for 33 heavy
    tankers, after the National Transportation Safety Board said it
    could not guarantee their airworthiness. Three such planes crashed
    between 1994 and 2002, killing seven crew members.
    During the 2004 season, eight P-3s were returned to service, and
    three other planes were used in a limited capacity after Western
    lawmakers complained the large planes were needed.
    Democrat Max Baucus of Montana praised the decision Thursday.
    "As we stare down the barrel of what could be another bad fire
    year, having these planes at the ready is reassuring to all of us
    as Montanans," he said.
    Greater than expected moisture in the West could delay fire
    season in the Northwest and Northern Rockies until July, officials
    forecast. Difficult fires are expected at lower elevations in
    southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  20. #20
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    193

    Default

    The fleet is now at what: 60% of
    original (pre-grounding) strength
    ...not counting post-grounding weight restrictions?

    We'll run those calculations and see
    whether 60% is a true number.

    I suspect it's likely to drop.
    Last edited by budthespud; 05-27-2005 at 08:45 AM.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts