A problem detected on Air Tractor Fire Boss AT-802F amphibious Single Engine Air Tankers is preventing some of them from being used by federal land management agencies. Cracks in the tail support structure were found on two Fire Boss aircraft.
The Bureau of Land Management’s exclusive use contracts with the Fire Bosses have expired for this year, but the agency has made a decision not to use them on call when needed contracts until they are satisfied the problems have been corrected. However Don Smurthwaite of the BLM emphasized to us that the aircraft are not grounded and they believe the issue is not widespread. The contractor is working to solve the problem.
Since the BLM administers the single engine tanker program for all the federal agencies this has stopped the use of the Fire Boss aircraft on all fires where a federal agency has operational control.
One Fire Boss under contract to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), Tanker 851, has been inspected and given a clean bill of health and will continue to fly on fires where the IDL has operational control.