One USFS infrared aircraft possibly on season-ending Injured Reserve

USFS infrared aircraft N149Z
USFS infrared aircraft N149Z at Phoenix in 2013

One of the two U.S. Forest Service infrared line-scanning aircraft, N149Z, has a serious maintenance issue that may take it out of service for the rest of the season. If it were an NFL player, it would be called season-ending Injured Reserve.

The Beechcraft Super King Air 200 (twin-turboprop) has a problem with the right engine mounting, which has not been completely evaluated yet, so it is difficult to estimate when it will be back in the air. But it could be out for the rest of the western wildfire season.

There are presently no privately owned infrared line-scanner aircraft on call when needed status.  If necessary, contract infrared services could be hired through an Emergency Equipment Rental Agreement by the local unit or the Geographic Area Coordination Center, as was done by the Lassen National Forest in 2012 on the Ponderosa Fire in northern California.

The other USFS IR plane is a twin-engine jet, N144Z, a Cessna Citation II. It continues to be in the starting lineup. Occasionally in past years they have outfitted a King Air B-90 with IR equipment.

4 thoughts on “One USFS infrared aircraft possibly on season-ending Injured Reserve”

  1. The State of Colorado has a detection aircraft that was recently evaluated by the FS R2 RASM with a complimentary report. Too bad the RAO chose not to provide a cooperator letter, what’s up with that?

  2. Define a serious maintenance issue.

    Broken engine mount? Expensive AD issues and compliance? Firewall of engine compartment bent? Hard landing affecting engine compartment?

    In the corporate Beechcraft 200 world this may or may not a real problem and IF it is an engine mount, this is not a big issue. I bet most of this would be 2 days to 3 weeks. Bu

    If it is such a serious issue, then a SAFECOM should have been put out about it alerting both civilian and military operators. After all the SAFECOM system was about safety not about punitive actions.

    If the Big USFS and infrared folks are really interested, then this ought to have been done much like the civilians on contract, having to self report to SAFECOM.

  3. I agree Leo.
    The Safecom system is totally broken. Contractors have to, and Gov. personal do, report ridiculous discrepancies and items of unimportance that the system floods with nonsense. 8 out of 10 times it is Gov. reporting about contractors and rarely vice versa. Seems as though contract companies are nervous about p’ing off the customer but we all know there are many things Gov. folks do that require a safecom.

  4. Thanks, Todd

    Reporting chip lights, open doors, are examples of wasting time. Case in point, doors opening in flight? C’mon ….. teach people to close doors, ensure the Guv people who fly on contract ships to do this correctly. Jeez, this happens a lot in regular flying duties… It takes just as much time to explain how to close a door as filing a SAFECOM.

    Chip lights? Everyday life for military and civilian operators … a chip? Remove, examine, refer to manuals, track or enter in logbooks, drive on if engine does not need further work…..Takes more time, of course, than entering a SAFECOM. Make no mistake, this stuff is done everyday in the real world of aviation, that is reported in other ways of than SAFECOM

    Ensuring safety is EVERYONE’s business ……

    Now, in this regard USFS has both the moral and business sense to self report since they are flying precious cargo just like ANYONE else. These folks need to lead by example, even in the SAFECOM world!

    Seems, Todd we have only touched on the simple.

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