The U.S. Forest Service has released another study on air tankers (large 10mb file), which is one of nine commissioned by the agency on the topic since 1995. The $380,000 contract for this one was awarded to AVID, a Virginia-based company that employed a crew of retired and current aviation professionals for this project.
It would be helpful if an expensive 117-page report like this clearly stated the objectives for the study, but all we could find was this:
The purpose of this study is to build analytical data that can be used to estimate the requirement for airtankers in the future.
The report includes a huge quantity of statistics about how air tankers have been used over the last several years. I was expecting to see some concrete recommendations about how they should be used in the future, but there was little along those lines.
This study, like the RAND report, included no information about Very Large Air Tankers. But while the RAND study was favorable toward scoopers, this AVID report addresses them like this:
There is a relatively small amount of USFS background data that documents the use of scooper aircraft, making it difficult to come to conclusions regarding their use. While continued analysis of scooper usage is warranted, the focus of the current analysis is primarily on large airtanker usage, followed by heavy helicopter usage.
There was little else in the report about scoopers, reinforcing the perception that the USFS has a bias against them.
There was definitely some interesting data in the study, and below are two illustrations. Click on them to see larger versions.
Other air tanker studies
- 1995-1996, National Air Tanker Study (NATS)
- 2002, Blue Ribbon Panel
- 2005, Wildland Fire Management Aerial Application Study
- 2009, National Interagency Aviation Council
- 2009, USDA OIG Audit Report
- 2011, RAND
- 2012, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
- 2012, AVID firefighting aircraft study (large 10mb file)
- 2013, Convergent C-27J report