Forest Service buys its first lead plane in almost 40 years

Forest Service lead plane new
New U.S. Forest Service lead plane, a King Air 250 Twin Engine turboprop, N147Z. USFS photo.

After nearly eight years of writing and reviewing business cases, traveling to meetings, advocating, and developing contract specifications, the U.S. Forest Service’s Intermountain Region Fire and Aviation Staff accepted delivery of their brand new King Air 250 Twin Engine turboprop aircraft, N147Z, on December 26, 2018. This aircraft was the first new lead plane purchased since the early 1980’s when the Forest Service acquired over 20 Beechcraft Baron Aircraft for lead planes.

These aviation services are acquired in a variety of ways, some agency owned, some leased, many contracted, and some through agreements with states and other branches of Government. While this new aircraft will predominantly be used as a lead plane, it is also used to provide pilot training, natural resource activities and personnel transport. They may be also used for other natural resource management activities, such as conducting aerial surveys of wildlife populations and forest health. 

In 2014 we wrote about the 40+ twin engine aircraft the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management had under contract from private vendors that were used as lead planes, Air Supervision Modules (ASM) , and Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) aircraft.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *