As first presented to the public, the Bush Administration appeared ready, willing and able to open the homeland defense purse strings to allow first responders–police, EMS and firefighters–to purchase and operate a fleet of new law enforcement and parapublic mission-configured rotorcraft.
Despite the media attention on the Montana fires last summer and Southern California fires in October, last year’s fire season didn’t come even close to being the worst in recent times, according to statistics generated by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) of Boise, Idaho.
In the aftermath of last fall’s California wildfires–the state’s most destructive ever–a “blue ribbon” commission last month heard tacit admission that a state rule requiring firefighting aircraft to land a half-hour before sunset may have allowed a controllable blaze to become a huge, deadly conflagration.
When Minden Air contacted BAE Systems’ regional aircraft division to ask about leasing a 146 jetliner to use as a water-bomber, it came as something of a surprise to director Mark Taylor. “When they explained the characteristics they were looking for, we began to see its potential,” he told Aviation International News.
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