Aircraft working fires in central Oregon

Tanker 911 on the Corner Creek Fire i

Tanker 911 on the Corner Creek Fire in Central Oregon, June 30, 2015. Photo by Todd McKinley.

Todd McKinley sent us these photos he took June 30 of fires in central Oregon, the Corner Creek and Sugar Loaf Fires.

Tanker 911 on the Corner Creek Fire i

Tanker 911 preparing to drop on the Corner Creek Fire in Central Oregon, June 30, 2015. Photo by Todd McKinley.

K-MAX on Sugarloaf Fire

K-MAX (N43HX) on the Sugarloaf Fire in central Oregon, June 30, 2015. Photo by Todd McKinley.



U.S. air tanker dispatched to Canada

Neptune's five BAe-146 air tankers

Neptune’s Tanker 02, with four of her sister BAe-146 air tankers. Neptune Aviation photo, May 2014.

An air tanker operated by a United States firm was dispatched to Canada on Sunday. Today Neptune Aviation’s Tanker 02, a BAe-146, is in Grand Praire, Alberta (map).

Jennifer Jones, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, said there are no plans to send any additional air tankers to Canada at this time.

Tanker 02 does not have an exclusive use contract with the U.S. Forest Service, but received one of the 22 recently awarded Call When Needed contracts.

It is not common to send U.S. air tankers north across the border. But in recent years CV-580 air tankers have spent quite a bit of time in the United States after making the trip south.

Articles on Fire Aviation tagged CV-580.


NMAC modifies dispatching policy for air tankers

The National Multi-Agency Coordination Group has modified the protocol for determining which air tankers at an air tanker base will be the next in line to be dispatched to a fire. In a May 26, 2015 memo, the NMAC said:

All LATs, VLATs and SEATs operating from the same base shall be dispatched in rotation based on the type of airtanker requested on a first in/first out basis regardless of contract type (EU, CWN/On-Call or Forest Service owned) or the location of the incident.

A similar sentence was in the 2014 memo on the same subject. The difference this time is that Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) were included, as was “…regardless of contract type (EU, CWN/On-Call or Forest Service owned)…”

It seems like including CWN (Call When Needed) air tankers is a no brainer, and adding the provision for “Forest Service Owned” needed to be addressed, since there will be at least one of those, supposedly, later this fire season.

But it’s interesting adding SEATs to the list. The 2014 memo mentioned them:

This Rotation Policy does not apply to Water Scoopers, Type 3 Airtankers (such as the Cal Fire S-2s and SEATs) and Type 4 Airtankers (SEATs) because they are not governed by the U.S. Forest Service Airtanker contract.

Most if not all of the federally-contracted SEATs are on a Bureau of Land Management contract, both in 2014 and 2015 as far as I know. It seems odd that the policy on them would change this year, to include them in rotation protocol in 2015 but not in 2014. This policy, both years, was established by, or at least approved by, the National Multi-Agency Coordination Group.

The way the 2015 policy is worded, if an air tanker is told to “load and return” after making a drop, that next load could be from an air tanker that is sitting at the “return” base, and not necessarily from the air tanker that just dropped and is returning to that same base.


747 Supertanker still stored at Marana, but now has engines

747 Supertanker, Marana

747 Supertanker at Marana, AZ,, May 31, 2015. Florida Metal photo used with permission.

The 747 Supertanker, formerly owned by Evergreen until the company went bankrupt, has been in storage at Marana, Arizona for at least a couple of years. Most of that time Tanker 979 it has not had engines, but these photos from December, 2014 and May 31, 2015 show engines on the aircraft.

We attempted to call our former contacts at Evergreen, and not surprisingly, the phone number is no longer in service. So we’re not sure what’s going on with the Supertanker. Maybe it’s being prepped to be sold, or has been sold, however the registration still lists Evergreen International Airlines as the owner of #N479EV. Or maybe the owner had hoped to get one of the Call When Needed contracts that were awarded a few weeks ago.

“Florida Metal”, who gave us permission to use the May 31, 2015 photo, told us:

I saw about 3 Evergreen Supertankers there, or at least painted that way. There were another bunch of Evergreen 747s sitting there. They all had their engines on them so they might fly again, but being that these are 100 series not sure if they will bother and maybe instead convert a newer 400?

747 Supertanker, Marana

747 Supertanker at Marana, AZ, December, 2014. Photo by Nicholas Young, Nick Young Photos. Used with permission.

Evergreen produced two versions of the Supertanker that we are aware of. The first had rather crude tanks and could not carry the weight of retardant in the tanks. It was only authorized to use water, which is about a pound lighter per gallon, so it never received a contract with the U.S. Forest Service as an air tanker. Then the company converted another 747 with higher-tech, lighter tanks, which enabled it to use 20,000 gallons of retardant. It received certification from the Interagency AirTanker Board in March, 2009 and got a CAL FIRE contract in July, 2009, but only as a Call When Needed air tanker.

Evergreen's 747 "Supertanker"

Evergreen’s 747 “Supertanker” drops on the Railbelt Complex of fires in Alaska, July 31, 2009.

When it received a CWN contract from the USFS on June 14, 2013, the aircraft had been sitting at Marana without engines and needed a million-dollar “C” check in addition to other maintenance. The company decided that with an expensive expedited “C” check and the other needed work, it could have been ready to fight fire about the time the 2013 western fire season was drawing to a close. And the CWN contract had no guarantee of any revenue. So Bob Soelberg, the Vice President of Evergreen Supertanker Services, said they would wait until the next year to get the maintenance done. A few months later the company ceased to exist.

747 air tanker 979

Tanker 979 at San Bernardino Air Tanker Base, July 30, 2010. USFS photo.

Articles on Fire Aviation tagged “747”.
Articles on Wildfire Today tagged “747 air tanker” (some of them before Fire Aviation was created in November, 2012).


Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Joe.


Air tankers positioned at Boise

Tanker 162

Tanker 162 at Boise. NIFC photo.

The National Interagency Fire Center posted these photos on their Facebook page today, with the following text:

What’s Happening at NIFC these days? There are 4 heavy airtankers awaiting assignment, along with 2 SEATS. These pics are of one of the Next Gen Airtankers. In the foreground is the hose on wheels that fills these guys up with retardant!

The air tanker shown above is Aero Flite’s Tanker 162, an RJ85. It does not have an exclusive use contract, but is one of the 22 air tankers that were recently awarded Call When Needed contracts.

NIFC does not say in which aircraft the interior photo below was taken, but we’re guessing it was the RJ85, Tanker 162. They also don’t say when the photos were taken or by whom.

Interior of an air tanker

Interior of an air tanker at Boise. NIFC photo.


Tokoyo FD to establish helicopter unit for fighting high-rise fires

The Tokyo Fire Department will launch a helicopter-based unit called Air Hyper Rescue to battle fires in high-rise buildings, the Japan Times reported on June 29,2015.

From Aviation Today:

[T]he Air Hyper Rescue unit would be established by April 2016, and would use a helicopter with a 660-gallon water tank and water cannons capable of discharging approximately 160 gallons per minute horizontally. The helicopter also would be capable of carrying a 10-person rescue gondola.

When I first started reading about this I assumed they would be using an Erickson Air-Crane which has already been developed and can carry about four times as much water.

These videos show the Erickson concept.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to @jetcitystar.


Fuel truck added at Burns Airport will help mitigate fuel outages

Burns Airport fuel truck

A 6,000 gallon fuel tanker obtained from military surplus arrives at the Burns, Oregon. Photo by Burns Municipal Airport.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Capital Press:


“During fire season last summer in southeast Oregon, the Burns Municipal Airport ran out of fuel for firefighting airplanes nine times.

With drought expected to bring an even worse wildfire danger this year, airport Manager Jeff Cotton, community members and the Bureau of Land Management, which manages much of range and forestland in the region, began looking for ways to avoid similar shortages and response delays. Having to halt flights until fuel was delivered interrupted the firefighting effort.

Cotton and the others learned a military surplus tanker truck was available at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and federal General Services Administration approved the airport’s request. The tanker was free, and the BLM paid for two drivers and a low-boy hauling rig to go get it.

The tanker, a 1995 Volvo with only 300 miles on it, holds 6,000 gallons of fuel. Cotton said the rolling cache gives the airport about three days worth of fuel for the air tankers. He’d like more, but he’s glad to have it.

Cotton said he hopes to obtain another tanker truck next fall or spring.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said.”


Air Force hauls firefighting supplies to assist firefighting efforts in Alaska

Fire Supplies transported on Air Force plane

The U.S. Air Force joined the massive firefighting effort currently underway in Alaska on Sunday by helping to expedite an enormous load of firefighting supplies to Alaska from the Defense Logistics Agency to replenish the warehouse at the Alaska Fire Service. The bulk of the shipment, which weighed more than 127,000 pounds, was flown to Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks in a C-5M Galaxy transport plane from the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base northeast of San Francisco.

The Defense Logistics Agency is the normal supply source for the federal wildland fire supply system and firefighting supplies are normally trucked to Alaska from the Lower 48. However, given the urgency of the situation, the U.S. Air Force offered to ferry the supplies to Alaska. The shipment included pumps, chainsaws, water handling equipment, prepackaged meals, fire clothing and assorted other kinds of durable and consumable supplies that are in demand due to the high fire activity in Alaska.

Air force plane hauling fire supplies

Eielson AFB southeast of Fairbanks was used as the delivery point because the Galaxy requires a longer runway than is available at Fort Wainwright just east of Fairbanks. Personnel from the Alaska Fire Service and Eielson Air Force Base then loaded the supplies onto flatbed tractor-trailers for transport to the Alaska Fire Service warehouse on Fort Wainwright.

Some of the supplies were transported to Alaska on previously scheduled USAF DC-10 flights.

These photos were taken Sunday, June 28, by BLM Alaska Fire Service public information officer Sam Harrel.

Fire supplies on ramp