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  • Reminder-Aviation Resources

    United States Department of Agriculture
    Forest Service
    Aviation Safety Alert
    NO. 2003-05 Page 1 of 1


    AREA OF CONCERN: Fire and Aviation Operations

    DISCUSSION: Followi ng the disastrous airtanker accidents that occurred during the 2002
    season, a Blue Ribbon Panel was convened to assess the health and safety of the Federal
    wildland fire aviation programs. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture are taking the
    initiative to mitigate the sources of high risks in aircraft and operations. However, these
    measures will have some short-term effects on aircraft availability and place new limitations on
    certain operations that are worthy of notice. Thus the subject of this alert is to make you aware of
    the potential impacts on ground firefighting efforts.

    AIRTANKERS: 11 large airtankers have been permanently grounded and will not be replaced
    during the 2003 season. The remaining 33 tankers are undergoing extensive inspection and
    repair to prevent the structural problems that have occurred in the aging fleet. There is not as yet
    a good indication when the fleet will be returned to service in its entirety. The expectation is that
    tankers will be late in returning to service as they complete the process one at a time. This
    means firefighters may have difficulty acquiring retardant support until well into the summer

    LEADPLANES: Approximately half of the Federal leadplane fleet may be affected by a decision
    to retire USFS Barons due to aging airframes and lifetime limits. Replacement aircraft are being
    sought and once again are expected to be somewhat later in arriving than the normal start-up
    period. Early season tactical air coordination may therefore by necessity be provided through
    other resources such as ASM and ATGS platforms.

    EMPHASIS ON INITIAL ATTACK: Within the Federal Agencies, in order to make the most of
    limited resources, emphasis is being placed on initial attack in order to minimize acreage lost.
    Limited availability of leadplanes and airtankers dictates that they will be reserved for initial attack
    and likely will not be assigned to large fire scenarios. The National MAC Group will provide
    updates on the status and availability of limited aerial resources as the season progresses.

    RECOMMEND: FMO’s, Incident Commanders and Ops Section Chiefs should advise firefighters
    that aerial delivery of retardant may not be as available to them as in the past and to adjust
    ground tactics accordingly. Operational risk management procedures should take into account
    added safety measures to account for the possibility of reduced aerial support.

    /s/ Ron Hanks
    National Aviation Safety and Training Manager
    Last edited by NJFFSA16; 06-24-2003, 02:16 AM.
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