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The LA Fires Underscore the Need for Preventive Aerial Firefighting

You need persistent delivery with minimum time between refilling airplanes and only the CL-415 and BE-60 can do that. ( More...

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Bill Schmiett 5
Having spent a lot of time in the wildland firefighting business as a much younger man, (including air operations) this author clearly demonstrates a lack of knowledge about how stuff works in the real world. Total BS.
Larry Toler 1
On one of my overnights at KTYS, there was a function between the National Forest folks and water bomber pilots. I asked, why here, most of the fires are out west? Well, we have fires on the East Coast as well. To everyone involved in putting out those fires, y'all crazy! But keep up the great work!
Bill Lavender 1
Agreed! Does no one even take into consideration the costs of operating a CL-415 versus the formidable AT-802 Fire Boss; an amphibian 800-gallon aircraft that cost 1/10 of the CL-415 (more or less). The preventive concept is important. More than a decade ago, a Spanish company contracted with its government to patrol AT-802s loaded over a computer generated route of high susectibilty to fires based on location, date and weather. The fires were stopped before they even started. Of course, that may not be conducive to the government's cottage industy of firefigthing.
joel wiley 1
The best time to stop a raging forest fire is when it has burned one square foot.
So. Calif vegetation is adapted to survive frequent, low intensity fires. 75 years of total suppression and attendant fuel load buildup overwhelms that adaptation.

CalFire contracts for the global supertanker T944:“Whether they fly or not, if we call them, it’s going to cost a minimum of $165,000 for three days,” Cal Fire Deputy Director Janet Upton said. “Once they fly it will cost $16,500 per flight hour.”

A Rand study on the CL-415 reported the USFS contracted for about $11 mil/year for one.
Their take on it was it would be better to buy one at $35 mil with annual operating costs of $1.5 mil.
djames225 1
I agree Bill..those little Air Tractor's would be best line of defense..nice thing about the 415 thou, is it can hold more and has a system in place to inject chemicals into the hoppers..I can see AT doing that with some mods to the float/tank system
Torsten Hoff 2
>> Just as we had flights of bombers in World War II, imaging 12 or 24 of these water bombers, flying in formation, dousing wildfires just after they begin and before they become massive conflagrations.

That's wishful thinking. The airspace is crowded and chaotic, and conditions changing by the minute (and often quicker than that). It simply isn't practical to assemble a formation of that size quickly enough for it to be effective, especially in locations where they would need to take on water from rivers or lakes instead of the Pacific Ocean. Why should the first aircraft to take on water have to wait precious time for the last aircraft to do so and get in formation, when the first aircraft could start attacking the fire right away?
joel wiley 1
CL-215/415 is just one tool in the tool box. 3 of them, including T260, T262 were working a fire in the wilderness area South of Cascade Locks OR on the Columbia River. With a cycle time of about 7 minutes per run they worked to keep the fire down while hand crews built lines. They would be literally a drop in the bucket on the LA fires where retardant, not water is needed. The article sounds like a sales pitch for aircraft, paid for by somebody else's nickel.

Still trying to locate a reference to a BE-60 amphib tanker.
djames225 2
Ive not heard of a BE-60 but I have heard about the BE-200 ...Russian water bomber made by Irkut...suppose to be quite popular in Europe along with CL-215/415's...
Larry Toler 1
Good aircraft, but the FAA won't certify it to fly here.
joel wiley 1
With a capacity of 3100 gal, it's a bit more than the c-130's 3000.
The global supertanker T944 (N744ST) is flying out of KMCC to hit the SoCal fires a couple times a day.
With a 45 minute commute time, I wonder why it is not stationed closer to LA.
djames225 1
Preventative firefighting is 1 thing, as both Bill's pointed out, but what happens past that point...I know the Il-76 is authorized for US airspace, so why hasnt that tanker been called in to help (politics?)...a 12,000 gallon drop sure does help.
Highflyer1950 1
As far as California goes, it gets that same wildfire activity every year and fuelled by the Santa Ana winds, it may be time to have a fleet of water bombers at the ready! Insurance companies actually like a few disasters every couple of years as their soft market turns into a hard market and prices increase.


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