Fire Aviation broke major stories today. Below are excerpts:
The number of air tankers is cut for this fiscal year
The U.S. Forest Service is cutting the number of large air tankers on exclusive use (EU) contracts this year from 20 to 13.
U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Babete Anderson said budget issues are affecting the availability of ground and air-based firefighting resources:
The Forest Service is working to responsibly allocate ever tighter financial resources in the most responsible manner. Over the past few decades, wildfire suppression costs have increased as fire seasons have grown longer, and the frequency, size and severity of wildfires has increased. This means less funds available for our crucial restorative work on your National Forest System lands to prevent large fires.
Fewer Type 1 helicopters this fiscal year
Type 1 helicopters on exclusive use contracts have already been cut from 34 to 28. These are the largest firefighting helicopters, holding 700 to 2,800 gallons.
Forest Service to abandon the HC-130H conversion program
The U.S. Forest Service intends to abandon the program that it has been working on since 2013 to convert seven HC-130H Coast Guard aircraft into air tankers for fighting wildfires.
This is the last year the agency will support the HC-130H program. After four years none of the seven aircraft have completed the entire maintenance and conversion process.