cbphoto
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US Firefighting Tankers

Thu May 13, 2004 6:05 am

Hey everyone,
Heard a rumor going around today that the US forest service has canceled the contracts with the heavy tanker operations, and instead are sticking to helicopters, and smaller tankers. Can anyone confirm this???? From what I hear the service canceled the contracts due to safety of the aging fleet. Wonder what would happen to those old birds if this is true. Any thoughts, comments??
Cheers
ETOPS: Engines Turning or Passengers Swimming
 
ltbewr
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Thu May 13, 2004 6:15 am

From what I read in the news, some (about 30 or so) of the a/c used for tankers have been grounded. Recall how one a/c had it's wings fall off last year (?) so need to ground popular older models. Will have to switch to smaller a/c and helicoptors, saying that they can drop water with more precision.
 
citationjet
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Thu May 13, 2004 6:19 am

The Forest Service and the Department of the Interior Monday terminated contracts with the owners of 33 aging firefighting aircraft, saying their airworthiness can no longer be assured.
The surprise decision comes in the wake of three crashes involving such older aircraft between 1994 and 2002. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth said the aircraft -- some of them more than 60 years old -- an "unacceptable risk" to those who fly them, firefighters on the ground and people who live in areas threatened by wildfires.
The aging planes include the DC-4, DC-7 and P-3.
The Forest Service had grounded tankers in 2002, after two firefighting aircraft went down while on the job in California and Colorado. In both cases, wings folded on the aircraft as they were in flight.
Most of the aircraft suspended two years ago were reinstated to flying status after they were inspected by the Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque (NM). But last month, the NTSB reported that maintenance and inspection programs were not adequate.
http://www.fs.fed.us/
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cbphoto
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Thu May 13, 2004 6:40 am

ohh ok, thanks a lot for the info. What do you think will happen to those DC-4s, DC-7s, and P-3s. I sure hope some of them get a good home. I am currently in Prescott, AZ and there was a P-3, and a DC-4 stationed out here up untill a few days ago. Sad to see them gone.
Thanks
ETOPS: Engines Turning or Passengers Swimming
 
4holer
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Thu May 13, 2004 6:52 am

I'm real bummed about this, on 2 levels.
First, a few weeks back, I had one of the DC-7s fly low over be headed to Mesa Falcon Field. So low and so beautiful. It is depressing to bar these classics from the skies from an aviation perspective.

Second, as an Arizona resident, and with the fire season just getting going in a state with a 9 year drought and millions of standing dead trees resulting from the bark beetles, it will be sad to see so many acres burn this summer as a direct result of this. I can't believe they did this without a replacement.

If my home burned in a fire these planes could have stopped, I know who I would sue.
Ghosts appear and fade away.....................
 
RNOcommctr
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Thu May 13, 2004 10:07 am

The action also covers C-130's.
Active loading only, ma'am, keep it moving!
 
masseybrown
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Thu May 13, 2004 3:42 pm

Are the two Martin Mars still flying in Canada? The Discovery Wings half-hour about these two was one of their best shows.
 
cbphoto
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Thu May 13, 2004 3:55 pm

from what I have heard around here, yes the Martin Mars are still flying in Canada. They of course will remain up there during the fire season!
ETOPS: Engines Turning or Passengers Swimming
 
clipperno1
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 1:37 am

I guess this kills Evergreen's plans to utilize some of the 747 mass stored at the moment. Glad I got that video clip of the prototype tanker.
"I really don't know one plane from the other. To me they are just marginal costs with wings."� Alfred Kahn, 1977
 
starrion
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 1:44 am

It only covers the older fleet.

One reason they are grounded is stress damage from so many years in high stress ops. The stored 747's offer a non-stressed alternative, but it remains to be seen if they are actually effective.
Knowledge Replaces Fear
 
cbphoto
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 5:16 am

does anyone know where you can get that video of the 747 tanker??? Would really like to see it!!
Thanks
ETOPS: Engines Turning or Passengers Swimming
 
alphascan
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 5:22 am

Going to miss seeing those old DC-7s flying so low overhead in Northern Minnesota. Now all there will be to see are red Saab 340s.
"To he who only has a hammer in his toolbelt, every problem looks like a nail."
 
tristar2000
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 6:15 am

IMO, no firefighting a/c is as efficient as the Canadair water bombers which can unload tons of water and refill in a few seconds where a body of water is available.


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prebennorholm
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 7:02 am

I think that all forest fire prone European countries in the Mediterranean area have the Canadair water bomber. Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece. Why not the USA?

Where there is a lake or a wide river it can do the job of at least ten old DC-7 or such.

If I remember well, then one of the US water bombers, which folded its wing a few years ago, was even a WWII Conwair B-24 Liberator bomber!!! Another one was an almost fifty years old C-130A.
Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
 
rotor1
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 8:50 am

Tristar: The Los Angeles County Fire Department used Canadair 215s and 415s for a few years in the early and mid 90s. By in large, they were pretty uneffective...

They were instituted in response to the Malibu fire, as a political action to make it look like the politicans were doing "something", all along hiding the fact that they were virtually useless in the California environment. Winds were too high, the terrain was too rough, and the proximity to dippable water sources was too far. Throw in a little wind and pretty much any water source is off limits (ask the Canadair pilot who ripped a sponson off in the Pacific thanks to a mild chop). Their drop system combined with the performance they were capable of meant it often took up to 10 drops to get one solid load of water on the target they were aiming for... those things sure looked good swooping in to heroically save the house on the burning ridgeline (exactly what the politicians wanted), but if I was the owner of that house, I'd feel much safer with an S2 or Helicopter swooping in. Thats why the CDF didn't buy Canadairs, and the LACoFD is spending its seemingly infinite budget on new helicopters instead of longer leases on the 415s.

IMHO, the best solution to the cancellation of the tanker contract is the A10 "Firehog"... the warthog is designed to fly low and slow with a heavy load every day of the week. The plan they've got set up for them now means they'll be able to dump much more accurately, much closer to the fire than ever before... even at night. If only the politics would clear up...

-Mike
The best aviation photo I've ever taken was rejected by Airliners.net
 
IMissPiedmont
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 1:11 pm

"The action also covers C-130's"

Only the civilian ones. The USAF, through the ANG, has 10 C-130s that are available.

I'll say that the contract cancellation is silly though, I've seen the 3 ARDCO C-54s at Ryan field, and they are in better shape than most airliners I've seen at Hamilton or Evergreen.

There is much gnashing of teeth here about what will happen next, but I doubt anyone in Arizone knows about the Canadair, it's too darned obvious.
The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
 
L-188
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 1:12 pm

Water is a crappy thing for a fire bomber to carry. Retardant is where it is at.

This rulling is complete B.S.

I love how they announced it right at the start of fire season. You think the forest service could have decided at the start of winter so that some lead time to consider alternatives would exist. As it is now, Alaska just lost two of the four heavy tankers that it normally contracts. The remaining two are a pair of DC-6's chartered in from Canada.

OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
IMissPiedmont
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 1:23 pm

And the decision just cost a man here in Arixona his heart and soul. And 14 people their jobs at ARDCO. There are also 2 other companies in Arizona but I don't know the owners.

I wonder who will be blamed if the Santa Cruz mountains burn this year? Or the Rincons? Either of those would make last years Santa Catalina fire look like childs play without heavy aircraft.
The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
 
L-188
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 1:59 pm

Alaska is looking at maybe chartering more single engines....read Ag-cats. to do suppression work.

I am just waiting to see some poor firefighter get killed, because there isn't any large tanker support.

A lot of the area's in this state are not in range of helo's and smaller aircraft.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
IMissPiedmont
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 2:10 pm

And here in Arizona, most mountain areas are not accessible to vehicular traffic meaning that without large aircraft, the fire will burn. Helicopters as Ag aircraft are only able to aid the ground crews and when it takes 2 days to get them on site, the battle is already lost.

On the positive side, a wilderness fire does have beneficial effects. It can also be a catastrophe.
The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
 
L-188
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Fri May 14, 2004 2:14 pm

I predict an ugly fire season.

All to satisfy Jim Hall's ego  Pissed
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
SkydrolBoy
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Sat May 15, 2004 2:37 am

Yes, the Martin Mars are definetly flying in canada, mainly in British Columbia.

The company I work for converts Convair 580's into air tankers, and is looking at converting some Convair 5800's into air tankers aswell. So far the Convairs have only flown in Canada and in France, maybe now we can start making some for the US.


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StearmanNut
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Sat May 15, 2004 2:58 am

I fail to understand how aircraft like the 2002 Colorado crash of a PB 4Y and C-130, having such flaws as long-existing wing spar cracks, were ever signed off by A&P's in the first place. Is there some FAR maybe that allows "temporary use" aircraft to fly without a valid airworthiness certificate?

I would like to see the new Evergreen 744 air tanker in action.

I have also seen Air Tractor model 802 water bombers in Italy, France and in Spain, I've seen them on floats.

Maybe some investments in more Canadair 415's and MIL 26 helicopter water bombers?
If wishes were horses, a Tail Dragger I would fly...
 
northstardc4m
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Sat May 15, 2004 3:35 am

Maybe some investments in more Canadair 415's and MIL 26 helicopter water bombers?


Alas, the CL-415 is basically finished. Production finished almost 2 years ago and the line is currently being disassembled for transport and storage (probably at Mirabel or Downsview). Bombardier had high hopes for the 415 when it moved production to North Bay, but no new orders have been forthcoming. There are currently 3 CL-215s and 1 CL-415 here in North Bay, stored.

The 415 cannot be beaten for "water on target". In a 2 hour timeframe a 415 can dump twice as much or more than any land based aircraft (i doubt even the 747T will match it). This is due to its short round trip pickup to drop. It can use any good sized lake, the ocean or a straightish river and return to the fire site long before any landbased plane can fly back, land, taxi, park, get reloaded, taxi, takeoff and get back to the fire.

The main problem the 415 had was price (3.5 million USD give or take) vs conversions of older land planes (500k USD to 1,500k depending).
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
 
4holer
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Sat May 15, 2004 5:13 am

The main problem the 415 had was price (3.5 million USD give or take) vs conversions of older land planes (500k USD to 1,500k depending).

And don't forget that many fire prone areas (Arizona, California, etc) do not often have much in the way of "good sized lakes, oceans or straightish rivers" to do much good.
Ghosts appear and fade away.....................
 
tristar2000
Posts: 259
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Sat May 15, 2004 6:16 am

And don't forget that many fire prone areas (Arizona, California, etc) do not often have much in the way of "good sized lakes, oceans or straightish rivers" to do much good

This would be a good reason not to have 215s or 415s, but please don't anyone call it inefficient when there is water nearby, nothing matches it... I have never heard of the wind stopping it more than any other firefighting a/c out there... If you think the load from a helo drop (small load) won't be affected by the wind.... ah well not worth arguing about!! The only reason why I wouldn't like my house showered by a 415 is the worry about the fact that the more than 6000 litres of water would crush the house... apart from that I'll take it anytime over an helicopter.

As for production of the plane, it is true that it is stopped... but not cancelled... it can get under way again anytime an order comes in.
 
L-188
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RE: US Firefighting Tankers

Sun May 16, 2004 2:44 pm

It should be noted that this new rule does not apply to Canadian registered aircraft. So the exact same aircraft now have to be charted from Canadian companies.

That is why Alaska only lost two of her four traditionally leased tankers. The other two are C- registered birds.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.