Page 1 WINTER 2016

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Fire whirls; invisible danger for aerial firefighting “Why a SEAT Program?” AFF International Asia Pacific 2016


keep turning… in this issue VOLUME 34 NUMBER 12 | WINTER 2016


F I R E F I G H T I N G ’ S


P.O. Box 850 • Perry, GA 31069 USA 475 Myrtle Field Rd. • Perry, GA 31069 USA PHONE: 478-987-2250 FAX: 478-352-0025 • Scan this QR Code with your smart phone.

AFF-03 Kawak refill pumps supports rotorcraft AFF-05 From the SEAT AFF-06 Home away from home AFF-08 AgAir Update’s AirFire & Forestry welcomes Mark Bickham AFF-09 “Why a SEAT Program?” AFF-12 DataVault: a proven solution from Trotter Controls AFF-13 Learning how to use the “Tools in the Toolbox” AFF-14 Avialsa subcontract ZTC for maintenance of Macedonian

AT-802 firefighting aircraft

AFF-15 Wipair’s visit to Spain AFF-16 Fire whirls; invisible danger for aerial firefighting AFF-17 AFF International Asia Pacific 2016 AFF-18 CAE to create wildfire training and simulation centre in B.C.

PUBLISHER: Bill Lavender - EDITOR: Graham Lavender - ACCOUNTING: Sandy Lavender - ADMINISTRATION: Casey L. Armstrong - ADVERTISING: Ernie Eggler - Michael Conner - CLASSIFIED ADS: Melanie Woodley - PRODUCTION: Deborah Freeman - CIRCULATION: Melanie Woodley - Mary Jane Virden - CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Carlin Lawrence - Alan McCracken - Robert McCurdy - Tracy Thurman - LATIN AMERICAN REPS: Victoria Blanc Chalking - Ernesto Franzen - Gina Hickmann - Pat Kornegay - © Copyright 2016 AgAir Update retains all rights for reproduction of any material submitted, to include but not limited to articles, photographs, emails and bulletin board posts. All material remain the copyright of AgAir Update. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in part or whole, without the written consent of the publisher. Editorial published do not necessary reflect the views of the publisher. Content within AgAir Update is believed to be true and accurate and the publisher does not assume responsibility for any errors or omissions. Unsolicited editorial manuscripts and photos are welcomed and encouraged. We cannot be responsible for return unless submissions are accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Advertising deadline is 12 noon, on the 1st of the month preceding the month of publication. AgAir Update (ISSN 1081-6496) Published monthly by Blue Sky Investments, Inc., 475 Myrtle Field Road, Perry, GA 31069 for $39 USD for one year in the U.S.; International rates are $39 USD for one year. Periodical postage paid at Springfield, MO and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to P.O. Box 850, Perry, GA 31069.

On the cover: McDermott Aviation of Australia makes an approach to a highway in eastern Australia to pick up another load of water using the Kawak Hover Refill pump system.


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AgAir Update, a multiple-award winning publication, is a tabloid newspaper 12.25” deep by 10” wide on a 2.25” 4 column format. Contract rates are available upon request.

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Kawak refill pumps supports rotorcraft Andrew Sawyer of Kawak says, “When responding to a fire every rotorcraft operator must depend on mission equipment provided by another party. Their firefighting mission equipment is the means by which they save homes, lives and keep the fire contracts they have worked hard to acquire. This is a concept that we’ve taken very seriously over the years and is the reason Kayak has developed products like our line of hover refill pumps.” The first 28vdc Kawak hover refill pump was developed in 2004. The

launch customer, McDermott Aviation in Australia, installed and tested the prototype on a Bell 214B helicopter. Testing went well and the pump did its job reliably pumping around 900 gallons per minute. Despite this early success, Kawak has continued to refine and improve the hover refill pump since 2004, simplifying, increasing durability and improving all around reliability. McDermott Aviation has grown since 2004 adding many aircraft to their fleet and Kawak has supported them the whole way. McDermott is now one of

many customers worldwide that relies on their rotorcraft firefighting products to keep fires in control in Australia. Kawak now supports the rotorcraft firefighting industry with refill pumps for fixed tank and in-bucket application providing 900-2500+ GPM, fixed tanks, Sea Snorkels, auxiliary hydraulic systems and most importantly full support of all their products. McDermott Aviation is very pleased with the performance of the Kawak Hover Pumps seen here on the cover of AirFire & Forestry’s winter edition 2016.

A parade of McDermott Aviation helicopters approaching a water supply for another “drink”.

December 2016


802F Fire Boss Amphibious Scooper


Small or big fires. Tributaries or tarmacs. Water or retardant. Do more with less. That’s the advantage of the Air Tractor 802F Fire Boss. It can deliver as much as 14,000 gallons/hr. for less than 50 cents per gallon. Nothing else comes close to matching its versatility, operational tempo and economy. When resources are scarce and it’s time to hit it from the air, bring in the Boss.

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CONAIR GROUP INC. (802F in Canada) (604) 855-1171

LANE AVIATION (U.S. + Mexico, Central & South America) (281) 342-5451 / (888) 995-5263

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Marc Mullis

from the SEAT

Season of change As the fire season winds down across western states, a winter fire season is ramping up across a large swath of the southeastern United States. An exceptional drought combined with record-setting high fall temperatures has resulted in hundreds of October wildfires from parts of Louisiana stretching all the way to Pennsylvania. Hundreds of firefighters from across the west have been mobilized to lend a hand to their brethren in the east. It is usually the other way around, but I am sure all are pleased to be returning the favor. In a strange twist of events, the seven anti-government protesters that seized and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were acquitted in October of all charges by an Oregon jury. This could have implications for federal employees that manage federal lands, as it could embolden other groups to take similar actions all across the country. Many areas have citizens that hold deep resentment for the various federal agencies that have jurisdiction over what many locals believe is their land. I have fought fire out of Burns, Oregon where this all took place (the federal agents used the SEAT base as their headquarters) and you could feel the distrust going both

ways. Most of the confrontations were a result of firefighters responding to a new fire start. An issue arose in Montana last summer that has long been ignored. SEATs are known for their ability to operate out of small municipal or county airports, therefore reducing ferry distance and time. The state of Montana wanted to set up a retardant reload base at a small airport near Broadus, about sixty miles south of Miles City. The plains of eastern Montana is big country with few airports to choose from. Broadus is not the best choice as far as pilots are concerned because the runway is short and terrain requires takeoffs only to the east. Often, fire managers only see an airport on a chart. Every airport is rated for weight bearing capacity on runways, taxiways, and ramp. Upon doing some research, myself and the other three pilots based at Miles City discovered the weight bearing capacity at Broadus was only 12,500 pounds, far below the gross weight of the AT-802s we were flying, which is 16,000 pounds. With full fuel, we could legally only haul about three hundred gallons of retardant; hardly enough to make our efforts worthwhile. Upon presenting

our findings to management, plans to locate at Broadus were immediately dropped. Further research show that numerous small airports across the country used as reload bases fell under these restrictions. In the future, this will become yet another criteria for selecting a reload base. The new Exclusive Use SEAT contracts will be awarded soon and all in the industry are anxiously awaiting the results. The lives of many crews in the aerial firefighting business will be decided for the next five years. Winter months signal the season for training and review across most of the country. Texas, Oklahoma and southeastern states often see a winter fire season and with that comes the ordering of aerial firefighting assets. I have learned to keep a bag packed year around. I hope you all have a great holiday season and maybe one day I will see you in the mountains.

Marc December 2016


Home away from home by Marc Mullis When air tanker crews go on duty each year they are often on the road three to maybe even six months at a time. This job is not for homebodies, as we often spend more nights in hotel rooms than we do at home through the year. To facilitate loading the aircraft and provide a place for aircrews to hangout, the United States aerial firefighting fleet is provided with a collection of tanker bases that are scattered all across our nation. They are managed by different agencies and are as diverse as simple portable pumps and tanks to multi-million dollar facilities, but all with the same mission, service the aircraft. Flight crews often spend up to fourteen hours a day at them. At the beginning of each season, the fire aircraft are assigned a home base or starting point. This will not necessarily

be where they will remain all year because as national assets they may be sent wherever the need arises. Some districts are more possessive than others and though they may loan aircraft out they want them back at the end of the mission. Full service tanker bases are equipped to load SEATs, heavy air tankers and possibly very large air tankers. Most are very nice permanent facilities with a flight crew lounge, rest areas, full kitchens and a laundry room. They have contracted crews that load the aircraft, manage traffic on the ramp, and record aircraft times. During heavy fire activity, they can become very crowded busy places. When the activity shifts to another area, they almost become deserted overnight.

Portable Air Tanker Bases (PABs) are large trucks that contain everything to set up a base at any location. The federal government has two of them and several states have incorporated them into their system. They do not have lounge or kitchen facilities, but the agency may bring in trailers or portable buildings for these purposes. Some SEAT bases are just as nice as their full service counterparts or they can be as simple as setting up the venders loading trailer. In this case, the crew hangout may be sitting in the service truck with the air conditioning or heater running. Tanker bases are as diverse as one can imagine, but they all have one thing in common, all are a home away from home.

Boise,Idaho home of the National Interagency Fire Center

Battle Mountain, Nevada full service tanker base.

Amarillo, Texas SEAT base.


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Miles City, Montana SEAT base.

Pocatello, Idaho full service tanker base.

Touelle, Utah SEAT base.

December 2016


AgAir Update’s AirFire & Forestry welcomes Mark Bickham as columnist AgAir Update’s quarterly AirFire & Forestry section is excited to announce that Mark Bickham has joined our team to bring its readers insights into the everexpanding world of aerial firefighting. Mark’s column will be created from his experience of more than 40 years in aviation and over 32 years in the aerial firefighting industry. Mark is owner and COO of Salvo, LLC, an aviation advisory company. He is the past National Program Manager, Air Tankers/Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management at the National Interagency Fire Center’s National Aviation Office. Mark also is a current Professor of Aviation Management in Fire Suppression, and Aviation Program Development at Eastern Oregon University. Mark’s work experience includes Aviation Safety Inspector and Accident Investigator for National Aviation Underwriters and Aviation Underwriting Specialists (19761983), Independent Aviation Safety Inspector/Accident Investigator (19831984), USDA Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Specialist, Engineering Technician/ Survey Crew Leader, Aerial Observer/Fire Reconnaissance Officer (1984-1990), DOI Bureau of Land Management, Safford/Tucson Fire Management Zone Aviation Officer/Air Attack Base Supervisor, Senior Aviation


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Technical Advisor, Single Engine Air Tanker Lead Development Specialist, National Single Engine Air Tanker Specialist (1990-1999) Bureau of Land Management State Aviation Manager, Montana and the Dakotas (1999-2001) National Program Manager Air Tankers/ SEATs Department of the Interior (2001 to 2011) . Mark’s experience doesn’t stop within the borders of the United States. During the spring of 2013, he worked in close cooperation with Elbit Systems LTD during the development and implementation of aerial firefighting programs and training syllabus for the State of Israel. In addition to his company, Salvo, LLC, Mark serves as Director of Aerial Firefighting Applications and consulting representative for Thrush Aircraft, Inc. He also is a consultant to several state fire agencies in developing an effective local aerial fire suppression program. Mark has too much aviation and fire experience to comprehensively list in this short introduction, but just to name a few: Senior Aviation Technical Advisor, U.S. Forest Service and Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management National Program Manager Air Tankers, Single Engine Air Tanker Coordination Specialist, Lead developer of the Aerial Firefighting

Institute for the Department of the Interior, Lead developer of the Single Engine Air Tanker National Training Course, Lead developer of the National SEAT Pilot Academy, Author and lead developer of the Close Air Support in Fire Suppression Doctrine for the Bureau of Land Management, Lead Doctrine Developer and implementation oversight coordinator of the Aerial Task Force for the Bureau of Land Management, Member of the Steering Committee for the National Aerial Firefighting Academy, Author of the Interagency Single Engine Air Tanker Operations Guide, Lead developer of the SEAT Pilot Training Syllabus, Lead Developer of the Computer Based Pilot Training syllabus, Author of the SEAT Manager Training syllabus, Chairman of the Board for the Interagency Single Engine Air Tanker Steering Committee, Voting Member of the Steering Committee for the Interagency Airtanker Board. Air Operations Branch Director, Air Tactical Group Supervisor, Helicopter Manager Type 1 through Type 4, Helicopter Coordinator, Aerial Observer, Type 6 Engine Foreman, Crew Boss, Division Group Supervisor, Single Engine Air Tanker National Coordination Specialist and Single Engine Air Tanker Manager. We hope you look forward to and enjoy Mark’s upcoming columns as he shares his expertise and insight into his aerial firefighting domain.

Mark Bickham

Initial Attack

“Why a SEAT Program?” While fighting a relatively small wildfire, (about 40 acres) in the Wind River Range of western Wyoming many years ago, the hand crew that I was attached to was struggling to build a fire line in the steep terrain. The Crew Boss happened to be standing close by and was overheard to comment “Wish I could sprout wings and fly up to the top of this ridge and put in a line to stop this thing!” I remember thinking at the time, “Amen to that, brother!” You see, back in those days the ground firefighters rarely saw any type of aircraft on a fire. As a matter of fact, the first aviation asset that I saw on a fire was an old Bell 47 helicopter that was delivering C-rations to the crews near the fire line; that was about all it could lift in the higher terrain of the western Rocky mountains. This was on my fifth fire assignment! The aerial wildland fire suppression industry has certainly grown since those days, and has become quite effective in aiding the ground firefighters in their efforts to reduce the damage to our natural resources, as well as save lives and protect property. Today, the firefighting aircraft that are available to fight wildland fires are quite extensive. The tools of the trade include all types of aircraft, from the DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) down to small general aviation airplanes such as the Cessna 172. Although the specific missions may differ, they all serve a critical role in the overall effort to contain and extinguish wildland fires. So…with so many types of aircraft available to the fire suppression industry why use ag airplanes? One of the most effective and efficient aircraft being utilized today are known

as Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs). These aircraft are current production airplanes that were originally designed primarily be agricultural application equipment. (With the single exception of the Air Tractor AT-802. This aircraft was originally designed to be an aerial firefighter, and is currently being used in both aerial application and fire suppression activities.) There are several manufacturers that produce aircraft being used as SEATs. Most notably Air Tractor, Thrush Aircraft and also the Polish-made Dromader. In order to answer that question, we need to take a look at a little history and how we here in America fight wildland fires with airplanes. The aerial fire suppression concept began in earnest back in the immediate post-World War II days. With the glut of surplus aircraft available at that time, the idea was put forward to use these assets in the same manner to fight fires as were used to win a global conflict. There were many ideas brought forward on how to best utilize this resource. Some were very good ideas, and some were quite bazaar. One that comes to mind that was not well thought out to its conclusion, was the idea of dropping wooden barrels of water from high altitude. (We did have all these B-29s sitting around doing nothing, did we not?) The tests of “Carpet Bombing” with these barrels proved to be quite dangerous to any ground firefighters in the area!

However, cooler heads prevailed and surplus aircraft were modified to drop water onto the fire from a lower altitude without the cumbersome packaging. These first attempts in using airplanes to aid the ground firefighters in their efforts proved to be of great value. Even though there were a large number of surplus aircraft available at that time, the modifications and maintenance of these airframes became expensive, not to mention the building of a complete Air Tanker Base infrastructure to support their loading and deployment. This cost kept the numbers of aircraft available down, and the locations where they were stationed became widely dispersed. This system is in place today and works very effectively, but the cost of maintaining a sizeable fleet to adequately cover the vast areas under a wildfire threat in this country can become prohibitive. What was needed was an aerial resource that was less costly to maintain and operate as well as having the capability to respond to fire activity during the initial stages of the conflagration. This aircraft also had to have the capability to deliver an adequate payload of retardant or suppressant to the fire.

Enter the SEATs. During the early 1980s, there were several aviators thinking about this problem and began to explore alternatives. Some were beginning to think “outside the box”, looking to alternatives to the surplus aircraft fleet, as well as a way to mitigate the prohibitive cost of the development of a “purpose built aircraft” for aerial firefighting. A U.S. Forest Service employee wrote a “White Paper” describing the concept of modification to existing agricultural application aircraft for wildland firefighting. The basic idea was to utilize an existing industry that could provide aircraft locally. As happens

December 2016


in large government bureaucracies, this paper was passed up the chain of command and was lost to almost everyone. During this same time period, there was a small group of visionary aviators within the Department of the Interior with the same idea. One of them happened to see the “White Paper” on a desk and added it to his folder of ideas for future investigation. It was decided to develop a “Proof of Concept” program and seek out a method of demonstration. To make a long story short… the first demonstration of an ag aircraft making water drops on a simulated fire was performed by a Hemet Valley ag operator, with an unmodified Pezetel Dromader. The year was 1984. The tests were deemed a success and that there should be further testing and capability parameters set before integration into the fire suppression effort.

Things move at glacial pace within the federal government After much discussion, it was decided to begin looking for opportunities to conduct a “Proof of Concept” demonstration on a real wildfire. That opportunity came several years later with the deployment of the first Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) on a fire in the Joshua Tree National Monument in southern California. The test was a success, and all who witnessed the application wanted to continue the use immediately.


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As we all know, things move at glacial pace within the federal government and it was not until the last part of the 1980s that additional aircraft were being used to combat wildfires. These were almost exclusively being incorporated into the fire suppression resources of local Bureau of Land Management (BLM) districts in Arizona by forward thinking fire managers. Word began to spread throughout the firefighter community about the aircraft being used in the southwest to aid the ground firefighters on initial attack fire responses. Soon, the numbers of SEATs being utilized on fires began to grow. With this growth, it became apparent there needed to be standardization of operational procedures, as well as equipment. Since the BLM had been the main agency to incorporate SEATs

into their programs, it was determined it would become the “Lead Agency” in the development of this aerial resource. Soon, a list of equipment specifications, load capacity and performance criteria was compiled and adopted for all SEAT operations. These initial specifications are the foundation of what is now a National Aviation Program that is second to none.

communicating directly with both air and ground wildland firefighting assets.

The initial concept of SEATs within the wildland fire suppression effort was to have an aerial resource that would be capable of providing effective “Close Air Support” to the ground firefighter. The SEATs being utilized today must have a minimum load capacity of not fewer than 500 U.S. gallons. This is a minimum hopper capacity requirement; the vast majority of all SEATs today have a hopper capacity of 800 U.S. gallons.

Today’s SEAT program is the result of a lot of hard work by a large group of “forward thinking” individuals with a vision to the future. I would like to be able to mention them all here, but you guys know who you are and I thank all for your dedication and skills. When next we meet, the lemonade is on me. Bickham, out.

They are required to have a gate system that provides the operator with the ability to equally split loads dropped. Many SEATs today have a computerized, constant flow, drop gate system mirroring the drop systems of the Large and Very Large Air Tankers such as the DC-10 and BAE 146s. SEATs differ from their larger counterparts in that they have the capability to operate from smaller airfields and do not require separate dedicated facilities (Tanker Bases) for loading and deployment. Although, SEATs can and do operate from large air tanker bases, their greatest attribute is their ability to deploy from remote airports in proximity to the fire activity. This gives them the ability to respond to support requests more rapidly as well as being able to load and return to the fire in a short time span. Every SEAT has a dedicated service/support vehicle that in actuality is a portable fuel and retardant mixing and loading plant. A SEAT base can be quickly set up anywhere there is adequate runway and ramp facilities. SEATs also are required to have a sophisticated communication system on board that is capable of

In addition, SEAT pilots are some of the most highly trained and capable aviators that have ever been inserted into the wildfire aerial environment.

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DataVault a proven solution from Trotter Controls Following a successful full season trial in Australia in 2015/16, Trotter Controls is pleased to announce the shipment of more than 35 DataVault units for Summer 2016/17. David Coward, DataVault Product Manager & Senior Developer, commented, “We’re very pleased that we were able to satisfy NAFC’s world leading and demanding reporting criteria and proud that our customer network had the confidence to adopt our ground-breaking Message Interface.” DataVault is a proven solution to the increasingly stringent reporting needs of aerial firefighting agencies worldwide. Already providing near real-time position and event reports from the


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aircraft via the Iridium satellite network, DataVault’s new Message Interface reduces pilot workload through a range of innovative data displays and inbound message communication. Examples include summary information about each sortie – engine run, flight times and drop volumes – as well as GPS functionality providing simple guidance based on task information transmitted to the device or pre-loaded waypoints. “Our PC based simulator enabled us to involve our customers extensively in the design and development process,” added Marc Gerth, Operations & Engineering Manager. “The simulator demonstrates all the key features of the Message Interface and so provides an excellent out

of cockpit means for pilots to familiarize themselves with its capabilities.”

DataVault’s new Message Interface reduces workload “DataVault was conceived as a versatile telemetry and control platform.” said Victor Trotter, President & CTO. “We look forward to working with our dealers, customers and agencies worldwide to ensure that it continues to exceed their performance expectations in the seasons ahead.”

Learning how to use the “Tools in the Toolbox” by Mike Schoenau, Air Tractor Dealer, California I have spent the past few years encouraging fire managers in Southern California to seriously consider the Air Tractor AT802 as “another tool in the toolbox”. I have been heartened by the increased use of single engine airtankers (SEATs; Fire Bosses) by some Federal and State agencies to enhance their rapid initial-attack capability. However, my elation has been dampened this year by observing several large fire situations where the fires escaped initial attack. It seems that under pressure, some fire agencies tend to forget about new and emerging technologies/methodologies and revert back to traditional aerial fire-fighting tactics (e.g. indirect attack using large air tankers and retardant; dispatching SEATs from permanent tanker bases thereby increasing ferry distances; using retardant aircraft on fires that abut lakes, reservoirs, or rivers instead of calling in scooper aircraft). An AT-802 can work with its own fuel/retardant loading vehicle from smaller airports, unpaved airstrips or a closed section of highway. The Fire Boss can deliver up to 13,000 gph and work for up to 3-hours non-stop. Rapid response and quick turns are critical factors.

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As a California business man and taxpayer, I am concerned that some fire agencies have become too dependent on large air tankers which are often deployed after the fire has escaped initial attack. I am convinced that governments at all levels would save millions of dollars each year if they invested in fleets of smaller and less expensive SEATs and helicopters that could be pre-positioned throughout their protection areas to ensure facilitate initial attack on fires that are still small and manageable. For the past few years, I have sponsored and attended several State and Federal fire-fighting events (e.g. WFLC; NASF; Tangent Link AFF). Many senior managers have done a lot of “head nodding” about the cost effectiveness of SEATs and Fire Bosses while visiting my booth. Unfortunately, the information they glean during these events does not seem to percolate down to the appropriate decision makers within their organizations (e.g. Incident Commanders; Air Attacks; Dispatchers). In addition, internal reviews often maintain the status quo because of budget, political, cultural, and/or systemic constraints. It’s time to rationalize which tools remain in the “tool box”. It is also critical that key fire managers learn how to use those tools in the most cost effective manner.

December 2016


Avialsa subcontracts ZTC for maintenance of Macedonian AT-802 firefighting aircraft by Igor Bozinovski, edited for space by AgAir Update. Avialsa, the European Air Tractor dealer located in Valencia, Spain has entered into an agreement with the Croatian stateowned aircraft maintenance facility Zrakoplovno-Tehnički Centar – ZTC (Aeronautical Technical Center), to provide scheduled maintenance for the Macedonian Protection and Rescue Directorate’s AT-802A Fire Boss. The aircraft was flown to ZTC by the Availsa ferry pilot from Skopje Alexander the Great International Airport in Macedonia to Zagreb Franjo Tudjman International Airport in Croatia where the plane was officially handed over to ZTC and transferred to its maintenance facilities in the nearby city of Velika Gorica. By subcontracting the annual inspection of one Macedonian AT-802A Fire Boss to ZTC, the Spanish company provided its long-time Croatian maintenance partner ZTC with an opportunity to maintain its first non-Croatian AT-802 aircraft. Macedonia’s Protection and Rescue Directorate Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss Z3-BGU in ZTC hangar (photo Igor Bozinovski).

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Air Tractor AT-802 Powered by Honeywell TPE331-14GR 1650 SHP 4500 HSI/9000 CAM AFF-14



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On the other side, by doing so, Avialsa is able to improve ZTC’s capacity to be a reliable partner in providing comprehensive aftermarket AT-802 logistical support services for current and future governmental and private operators of Air Tractor planes in the Balkans. Avialsa T-35 and its sister company Air Tractor Europe, are specialized and factory-authorized to sell Air Tractor aircraft and to provide a wide scope of consultant, sales, maintenance and training services related to all types of Air Tractor aircraft and Wipaire floats in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Avialsa and Air Tractor Europe have heavily invested in establishing a comprehensive marketing network and complex one-stop logistical system composed of a Part 145 Maintenance Organization, a Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO), an Approved Training Organization (ATO), and a Part 147 Maintenance Training and Examination Organization. These capacities have turned Avialsa into a principal AT-802 partner to the governments of Croatia, Israel, Montenegro, Macedonia and Cyprus, as well as to many private operators of AT-802, in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Morocco, Chile, Senegal and Australia. Avialsa is the largest operator of AT-802 aircraft in the world, possessing a fleet of 30 aircraft and 45 pilots that have flown an astonishing 100,000 plus flight hours the previous 20 years.

Wipaire’s visit to Spain Dale Fehrenbach and Jeff Hauck from Wipaire, the manufacturer of Fire Boss amphibious floats for Air Tractor’s AT-802, visited Air Tractor Europe’s facilities in Valencia, Spain in October of this year to finalize the order for a number of new Fire Boss float kits for Air Tractor Europe. Fehrenbach and Hauck also visited the Valencia International airport, Paterna and Viver, where they toured Air Tractor Europe’s extensive maintenance facilities. Air Tractor Europe has an abundance of Air Tractor and Fire Boss parts in stock, a direct result of their “NO AOGs” policy.

AT-802 simulator is a unique example of art and technology.

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Wipaire also toured Air Tractor Europe’s training facility, where their FTD Level 2 AT-802 simulator is based. At this EASA certified facility, Air Tractor Europe hosts a 96-hour/12day training course for mechanics. Air Tractor Europe’s AT-802 simulator is a unique example of art and technology. It is designed for pilots to earn checkouts on the AT-802 that includes operational and communications training in difficult fire environments. The emergency syllabus prepared by Air Tractor Europe allows a level of safety and preparation unique for any firefighting pilot.

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Dale Fehrenbach tries his hand at “flying” Air Tractor Europe’s FTD Level 2 AT-802 simulator in Spain.

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December 2016


Fire whirls: invisible danger for aerial firefighting Compiled from original article appearing in Canadian Underwriter Four Fire Boss AT-802A Air Tractor aircraft were in the process of releasing water onto a forest fire near Cold Lake, Canada normal routine firefighting. The TSB (Transportation Safety Board of Canada) hinted that the pilot of an aircraft wouldn’t have recognized a “fire whirl” in his path, which produced severe turbulence that downed one of the four aircraft.

1.2 seconds, the aircraft’s DAAM (Data Acquisition Alarm Monitor) registered a shift from 4.8Gs to 2.1Gs. After the pilot’s head hit the canopy, the aircraft rolled right and swerved left. Its speed lowered to zero, but seconds after the turbulence hit, TSB reported that the pilot regained consciousness. 10 seconds later, the Air Boss went through turbulence of its own. Within a second, its DAAM reported a fluctuation (4.2Gs to -3.2Gs).

4 Wing Cold Lake consists of an air weapons range, as well as a couple of Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 tactical fighter squadrons bestriding the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. The Alberta branch of wildfire management sent out squads from the staging base of Beaver Lake once the forest fire was reported. Shortly afterward, four Conair Group operating Fire Boss aircraft dropped water twice on the top border of the fire upon scooping water a couple of miles west of the city. Water was dumped from up to 200 feet over ground level. Once the water was released, the aircraft ascended back to approximately 1,000 feet AGL.

After T692 ascended, it descended back down to about 400500 feet over ground level. The plane then rolled left, followed by entering a downward attitude. T692 hit the ground with its right wing lowered. The pilot received fatal injuries.

TSB reported that the fire often changed direction as it grew. One Fire Boss administered the third dump around 4:30 p.m., experiencing heavy turbulence under a minute later. Within

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Details from Bret Butler and Jason Forthofer, mechanical engineers from the Department of Agriculture in the U.S., isolated four factors that develop fire whirls. They include erratic atmospheres, a large source of heat, a powerful rotation/ vortices source and a low-to-medium ambient wind. Butler and Forthofer’s report was shown at the third Fuels and Fire Behavior Conference. Once the Fire Boss ascended into the fire whirl, the pilot probably plunged into the overhead cockpit at a negative acceleration of -3.2G, according to the TSB. Leaving the core could have once again placed the airplane’s nose in the updraft as the tail pointed in the opposite direction, resulting in the halted airplane to enter a nascent spiral. The TSB cited entering the fire whirl as one contributing factor and cause. The other involved the low-level altitude, which wasn’t sufficient to recover from the spiral.

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TSB discovered that the aircraft was moving at a ground speed of 129 knots before entering a two-celled vortex. The water bomber’s DAAM data that endured the turbulence - as well as the crashed plane – show that the two-celled vortex formed when a fire whirl started. The pilot wasn’t able to recognize the fire whirl in time, since it hadn’t absorbed sufficient unconstrained debris, according to the TSB. The pilot hadn’t experienced difficulties on prior drops.


In March of 2016, a training session was added by the TSB that focuses on the environmental dangers of a forest fire and identifying its circumstances. Conair also set up its AT-802 aircraft with 5-point harnesses. At present time, TSB claims that there aren’t any supervisory prerequisites in formal training for dangerous weather surrounding a wildfire. Fire whirls are similar to dust devils on a minor level. On a large one, they are likened to tornadoes produced from a thunderstorm, according to the TSB.

AFF International Asia Pacific 2016 • Adelaide Australia • September 5-6, 2016

A massive thank you goes out to everyone involved in Tangent Link’s Aerial Firefighting Asia Pacific 2016 (AFF APAC) which took place in Adelaide, South Australia on 5 and 6 September 2016. AFF APAC attracted 250 aerial firefighting specialists from 13 countries which included Canada, France, Hungary, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the USA along with representatives from all Australian States and Territories. No event can go ahead without its sponsors and exhibitors. A special thank you goes out to all those who supported AFF APAC. There was no time for rest during AFF APAC 2016 as three complimentary evening social networking opportunities made up the event to ensure every opportunity to develop business connections was available to all delegates who attended.



What next you may ask? Why not join us on 17 and 18 October 2017 at Aerial Firefighting Europe (AFF 2017) to take place at the newly opened Sécurité Civile Aerial Firefighting Centre based at Nimes Airport in France. AFF 2017 will once again bring the international firefighting community together for: • 2 days of plenary conference • Tangent Link’s largest yet AFF static and live exhibition • A continuation of the Interoperability Workshop which took place in Croatia during 2015 • A selection of training workshops For further information on commercial participation options please contact Lauran Allen at or telephone +44 1628 550 041. To find out more about complementary government, military and press access to AFF 2017 please contact Julia Guy at jguy@ or telephone +44 7718 107762. Further details can also be found at:

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December 2016


CAE to create wildfire training and simulation centre in B.C. CAE announced plans in February to create a wildfire training and simulation centre in British Columbia, long before the disastrous fires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. But the lessons of Fort McMurray will help guide the company as it works toward opening the centre in 2018 with Abbotsford, BC-based Conair Aerial Firefighting as its anchor customer. “The experiences in Fort McMurray and other locations are definitely demonstrating that this team environment is complex,” said Mike Greenley, vice-president and general manager of CAE Canada. “It’s increasingly complex. Fires are getting bigger and the number of assets coming in on them is increasing. You’ve got a combination of helicopters, the waterbombers that are dropping down into lakes, scooping up water and dropping it on the fire. And then these long-range chemical bombers, all working in the same airspace under coordination of the air attack officers.” “Aerial firefighting is similar to a tactical military operation, so there is an opportunity for the training environment to reflect that and to be able to train teams,” continued Greenley.

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CAE has signed a contract with Conair for the centre, which will be located in Abbotsford and feature a CAE-built Avro RJ85 fullflight simulator qualified to Level D, the highest qualification for flight simulators. The drive to create the centre is prompted in part by a market created with the conversion of RJ85 regional airliners into aerial firefighting assets. Other operators are using the aircraft primarily in Canada’s North, where it’s possible to complete short takeoffs and landings on gravel runways, said Greenley. “In Canada, there’s a decent cluster of these aircraft now being used,” he added. “There’s going to be at least three operators picking up RJ85s out of the global market, and then the biggest operator is Conair, converting them into aerial firefighting assets in both Canada and the United States.” The training centre will be suitable for giving pilots their certifications and re-certifications to fly the RJ85, but CAE will add enhancements to the simulation environment for firefighters. “They have very good visuals, very good, realistic firefighting scenes and a good modelling of the chemical release into those fires, so that we can do mission-specific training for the firefighter customers,” said Greenley. CAE expects the centre to be part of a distributed simulation network that connects wildfire training and coordination centres throughout Canada. “We would have additional simulators for other aircraft types that could go into Abbotsford,” he continued. “In addition, some of the provinces have their own simulators. So we would look at the potential of connecting provincial simulators in other provinces into our network to work on team training.” Ultimately, Greenley expects the new centre in BC to increase crew availability and reduce costs for operators, while providing safer training.

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“You just use a simulator today to get your type certificate as a pilot or a co-pilot of the aircraft, and then you do everything else in a live aircraft,” he said. “Now, we’ll be able to introduce simulation to learn the trade of aerial firefighting. So that’s going to decrease the cost to the operator and increase the training opportunities for the crew. “We’re going to be able to have a safe environment to put them in stressful aerial firefighting scenarios, which will hopefully further increase their already high skill levels in a very safe and cost-effective manner.”

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Winter 2016 - AirFire & Forestry Edition in English  
Winter 2016 - AirFire & Forestry Edition in English