Indonesia hopes to slow spread of wildfires by seeding clouds

From the Jarkarta Post:

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“The delayed arrival of two aircraft had postponed planned weather modification to extinguish land and forest fires in Riau, an official said Monday.

Pekanbaru’s Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase commander Col. M. Khairil Lubis said the two planes, which had been specially modified for cloud seeding, scheduled to start on March 1 had arrived late due to delayed administrative procedures.

“Based on the latest information from the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology [BPPT], the Cassa 212 planes owned by Pelita Air will depart for Pekanbaru today,” Khairil said after the launch of the Haze Disaster and Forest Fire Alert Operation at the Riau Governor’s office.

“The Indonesian Air Force will also deploy a CN-295 aircraft, or a Hercules plane for the same purpose,” he added.

“The cloud formation to the north of Riau is better now than a few weeks ago.

“The moment the planes arrive, cloud seeding will begin. The Hercules is able to carry three tons of salt each sortie, while the CN-295 and Cassa can haul two tons and a ton respectively,” he said.

“For the time being, aerial firefighting relies on water bombing using two helicopters from PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper and Sinarmas Forestry. The aerial firefighting has been ongoing for the past two weeks in Bengkalis, Pelalawan and Meranti Islands regencies,” said Khairil.

He pointed out that the Indonesian Military (TNI) had been very supportive of firefighting efforts in Riau.

“Besides soldiers, we have also deployed our weaponry, including fighter jets, to support operations. The Hawk 100/200 fighter jets based at Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase have been involved in patrols and photographing hot spots from the air since early February,” he said…”

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Latitude Technologies to supply Operation Loads Monitoring Systems for USFS

The U.S. Forest Service has awarded Latitude Technologies the contract to supply Operation Loads Monitoring  Systems (OLMS) for deployment by the US Forest Service on government and contractor  aircraft engaged in aerial wildfire fighting operations in the US over the next four years.

Government-owned aircraft include Cessna TU 206 and Citation Bravo, Raytheon King Air 90, A100 and 200, DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver and DHC-6-300 Twin Otter, Douglas DC3TP, Shorts 330 (C-23), Rockwell Commander 500 and applies to all aircraft procured or contracted for by the Forest Service throughout the life of the contract.

The Latitude contract includes the supply of monitoring systems for data acquisition, signal conditioning, and downloading of acceleration, strain as well as fuel, engine, control surfaces including spatial parameters, air pressure, temperature and retardant quantity to mention a few; up to a total of fifty-six continuous analog parameters.

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

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Forest Service issues multiple aircraft solicitations or RFIs

The U.S. Forest Service has recently posted multiple solicitations or Requests for Information (RFI) for fixed wing and rotor wing firefighting aircraft — Next Generation air tankers, scooping air tankers, various call when needed aircraft, helicopters, and one for the purchase of a new air tanker.

Purchase of a new air tanker

LM-100J

Lockheed Martin’s new LM-100J, expected to sell for about $65 million.

An RFI has been issued for the “potential” purchase of a new, turbine-powered, multi-engine turboprop aircraft with a payload of at least 34,000 pounds. It would be used as an air tanker, and for the transport of cargo and personnel, according to the RFI. Likely, the announcement is a response to the $65 million the USFS received in this year’s budget for the purchase of a new air tanker.

Since a requirement is that it haul cargo and personnel in addition to dropping retardant, this restricts it, as far as aircraft types being used in wildland fire today, to a C-130-type or the new civilian version of the aircraft, the LM-100J which is expected to sell for about $65 million. Coulson’s C-130H has a 3,500-gallon retardant tank that can be easily removed to haul cargo.

However, the LM-100J is not configured for carrying passengers, since it will not have a flush toilet or sound-deadening and temperature-controlling insulation blankets used on C-130s. If the USFS wants to use an agency-owned aircraft for hauling passengers, a better choice would be the 22 other aircraft soon to be added to the fleet — seven C-130Hs the USFS is receiving from the Coast Guard, or the 15 Sherpa C-23Bs transferred from the military.

The reply due date on the RFI is March 20, 2015.

Lockheed’s LM-100J brochure.
Code One Magazine article about the LM-100J.

Contracts for next generation air tankers

The USFS issued a solicitation for up to seven next generation air tankers. They are seeking aircraft tanked and approved by the Interagency Airtanker Board, furnished with crews, maintenance, and support. It would be a five-year contract with an additional five one-year options.

The aircraft must have a 3,000-gallon retardant capacity. The solicitation states, “Aircraft with less than 3000-gallon dispensing capacity will not be considered”. It is interesting they specified all 3,000 gallons must be “dispensable”. The first BAe-146s provided by Neptune could not adequately dispense all 3,000 gallons, especially on downhill runs.

The minimum cruise speed required is 300 knots (345 mph).

Unlike most previous air tanker contracts, this one specifies seven-day coverage, except six-day coverage is permissible during the first two years, but with a five percent reduction in the daily availability rate. We first advocated seven-day coverage almost a year ago.

Proposals are due on March 24, 2015.

RFI for water scoopers

The USFS is looking for vendors to provide up to two water-scooping amphibious air tankers from 2015 through 2020.

Like the next-gen contract, the USFS expects to begin this contract in a matter of days, weeks, or months after first mentioning it on FBO.gov. That is very optimistic, since the first next-gen contract took 550 days before it was finally awarded.

Here’s a tip. The USFS should get their sh*t together and advertise the solicitation, not the RFI, at least one year before the mandatory availability period. Top quality air tankers, crews, and maintenance personnel can’t be magically produced out of thin air.

Call When Needed aircraft and services

The USFS is seeking information from vendors interested in providing the following types of aircraft or services:

  • Approximately 25 turbine engine aircraft with a minimum tank capacity of 2,000 gallons or more.
  • Airworthiness and Maintenance Program specific to air tanker dispensing mission.
  • Logistics support system to operate throughout the western states.
  • Turnkey retardant base to support operations at locations away from established bases.
  • A multi-engine support aircraft capable of supporting logistics needs and directing tactical operations for the AT. Sufficient flight crews to provide seven day coverage while in use.

Type 1 and Type 2 helicopters

A solicitation for Type 1 and 2 helicopters closed February 12, 2015.

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

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Video of an RJ-85 dropping on fires in Australia

And here’s another one:

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The last smokejumper DC-3 to retire this year

DC-3 smokejumper

Jump-42, a U.S. Forest Service DC-3 TP at its retirement ceremony at Ogden, Utah, October 24, 2012. USFS photo.

The last DC-3 smokejumper aircraft will retire this year, a few months after its 70th birthday. Jump-15 as it is known, came off the assembly line two months after the end of World War II but it will be making its farewell tour as it drops smokejumpers during its final fire season. The second to the last smokejumper DC-3 retired a couple of years ago.

The Missoulian has an article highlighting the history of Jump-15. Here is an excerpt from the article:

…Douglas Aircraft Co. started building the tail-dragging DC-3s in 1935. TWA director Charles Lindbergh reportedly made the requirement that it should always be able to fly with just one of its two engines. That’s a feature smokejumpers loved too.
The DC-3 was the first to be wide enough for side-by-side sleeper berths – a first-class requirement for the propeller-age jet set. It could fly across the United States in 15 hours with three refueling stops, the first commercial plane to make that trip entirely in daylight.

When America entered World War II in 1942, the civilian plane put on an Army uniform. The military redesignated it the C-47 Dakota and ordered more than 10,000 before 1945.

Dwight Eisenhower ranked it along with the Jeep, the half-ton truck and the bulldozer as the Allied Forces’ most effective tools in winning the war…

Other articles on Fire Aviation tagged “DC-3″.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dick and Steve.

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Very small people pose with very large air tanker

Tanker 912

This is the Kindergarten class from the Monzano School in Albuquerque. On February 20, 2015 they took a tour of Air Tanker 912, a DC-10, and got their picture taken with Amy and Anselm from the 10 Tanker Air Carrier maintenance crew. Photo by 10 Tanker Air Carrier.

I love this photo that was posted today on the 10 Tanker Air Carrier Facebook page.

Below is a photo we took of the rest of a DC-10, Tanker 910, in 2013.

Tanker 910, DC-10, photo by Bill Gabbert

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