The crew of a forward fire controller aircraft orbiting the recent Dog Rock fire in Yosemite National Park said the Cal Fire-operated S-2F3AT tanker that crashed October 7 might have collided with a tree before it struck the ground, according to the NTSB preliminary accident report. The accident killed the pilot, and post-impact fire destroyed the aircraft.
The Helicopter Association International will look at operational and flight safety issues faced by aerial firefighters and provide an overview of the upcoming 2015 fire season next month (November 17 to 19) at its firefighting safety conference in Boise, Idaho. The conference includes an interagency briefing with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service. Attendance is free but advanced registration is required.
Cal Fire’s fleet of 22 converted Grumman S-2T firefighting tankers received a structural clean bill of health from the NTSB that allowed the aircraft to return to normal flight status, the company announced last week. The approval came four days after a pilot was killed when his aircraft crashed in steep terrain near Yosemite National Park. Cal Fire immediately grounded the fleet of S-2Ts to safeguard crews until structural and aging-aircraft issues could be addressed.
Consulting firm Flight Department Solutions (FDS) has launched a new venture to help aircraft owners start their own flight departments. Called Flight Department Advantage, the new program can set up a flight department and assist with all aspects of running it.
“Historically for somebody getting a new airplane, the path of least resistance is to have it managed,” said Dave Weil, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based FDS. “We want to make it easier for them to have their own flight department.”
A recently reposted YouTube video has provided a stark reminder to cockpit crews that airport rescue service response times are not consistent around the world. The 2007 video was shot at Okinawa in Japan during a fire that destroyed a China Airlines Boeing 737 as it sat at the gate. A ground worker can be seen approaching the inferno with a fire extinguisher before fire trucks arrived.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will resume contract night helicopter firefighting operations in Southern California next year. The announcement was made recently after the USFS evaluated a study it commissioned that was completed in 2010. That study found that helicopter night operations can mitigate the costs and risks of wildfires by retarding their size.
An Oregon jury has awarded William Coultas, his wife and the widow of pilot Roark Schwanenberg $69.7 million in a damages suit brought in the 2008 “Iron 44” crash of a Carson Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N. The verdict puts General Electric alone on the hook; other parties settled out of court before the trial. The helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from a helispot while conducting firefighting operations in Northern California. Schwanenberg and eight others aboard the helicopter died.
Simplex Aerospace is adapting its third-generation Aerial Cleaning System (ACS) into an aerial firefighting system for high-rise buildings. Ground-based firefighting equipment can reach only the first 11 floors of a high-rise, leaving an obvious gap in the ability to contain fires in higher up floors, Simplex vice president of sales and marketing Larry Lichtenberger told AIN today at Heli-Expo.
One of the largest and longest-lasting wildfires in the Midwest significantly taxed available helicopter assets, destroyed nearly 100,000 acres and sent smoke plumes into the sky that could be detected by satellites and smelled as far as 450 miles away in Chicago. Across Lake Superior, parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula were enveloped in dense smoke for days.
Bristow is offering a new six-day course, “Wildland Fire Orientation for Rotary Wing Pilots,” covering “basic knowledge of fire behavior, wildland fire operations and the role of helicopters in fire suppression and prescribed burning.” Students will participate in two modules developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG): S-190 Introduction to Fire Behavior and S-130 Firefighter Training.
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