PNWCG Aviation Working Team Meeting Attendees: July 25, 2006 Northwest Coordination Center

PNWCG Aviation Working Team Meeting
July 25, 2006
Northwest Coordination Center
Pam Ensley for John Holcomb, Steve Smith, Jon Rollens, Jim Ziobro, Clay Hillin, and
Brad Bernardy.
Last meeting minutes were reviewed and approved.
Communications/Radio Issues follow-up:
Frequencies: John Molder at NICC is supportive. Scott Dewitz initiated obtaining the
frequency information upfront to get them programmed into all the radios before the field
season. Some regional shuffling of some frequencies is planned. Scott is also working
to get some additional frequencies available for aircraft. Steve Jenkins was sent a letter
asking for support for this effort. Brad is going to contact John Molder and ask for more
help. Issue is with FM frequency availability.
State and cooperators are not on wideband. Most of the Feds are. There may be some
issues out there with the Fed’s conversion to narrowband. The Oregon is not near to
getting to narrowband. The Northwest Aviation Frequency Guide has an indicator to
differentiate the narrow or wide band setting. Other geographic areas that are already in
fire season have been finding personnel who still don’t know how to switch to the
appropriate band. R-5 has one air to ground and keeps them dialed into the radio as
they are dispatched to incidents. ODF has had to pull aircraft back because of
communication issues. ODF has a subcommittee looking at the transition to
narrowband. The governor wants everyone, OSP, etc., on the same frequencies so that
they can talk to each other.
Agency Updates
There was a short discussion regarding the Troutdale Tanker Base. The press has
taken the story and is spurring the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area to action. The FAA has
decommissioned the VASI, and the Airtanker Base has been closed because of the
proximity of the trees east of the runway. They have to come down to provide a safe
approach and departure path for airtankers. A decision will be rendered in a week or
two whether they can cut the trees down. There is a 14 day period of comment which a
decision might be appealed. Stay tuned.
3 Helicopter contracts were terminated with cause. Vendor had problems. Since then
we have all 5 rappel back and the national at Wenatchee not filled because of the timing
in the season and all helicopters are gone. Nationally there are 190 CWN on contract
and only 49 of them are actually available. There is more money in seismic and
exploration work. Most of the large helicopters are gone.
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R-6 is planning to have 3 Type 1 helicopters each based at Wenatchee, Oakridge, and
La Grande. It is planned to get a type 1 into Central Oregon for at least 30 days. There
will be 2 FS SEATs. One will be at John Day and one at Pendleton. Regarding the
ATGS program, we now have 3 out of 4 aircraft that we have been working on over the
past several years. They will be at Redmond, Wenatchee and La Grande. Funding was
provided to Okanogan-Wenatchee NF for staffing. La Grande will be staffed by an AD.
The smokejumper capability is as it has always been. That is a Sherpa at Redmond and
a Casa at NCSB. Two MAFFS are at Klamath Falls.
Still having problems with the latest generation MAFFS 2.
Competitive Sourcing is to be presented to the Chief in November. We have a stringent
time line with no wiggle room. Jon is happy with the group that will take the information
to the decision making body. Things will change. The House has passed a bill that states
no competitive sourcing will be done on wildland fire. Tom Harbor wants to continue the
process to use this as an efficiency study and to improve the system.
We have been moving aircraft around to catch fire and make the best use of the aircraft
that we have. Home units are not happy losing their resources. This movement is being
based on the predicted conditions.
AMD has been conducting spot inspections in the field. They are finding pilots who still
don’t understand programming the radios. Unusual number of new pilots in the system
and communications is one of the last things they are trained to do. SEATS have been
flying 150 hours a day consistently.
We have an exclusive use contract for a SEAT at Richland. The SEAT is flying
everyday and getting utilized.
2 T1 airtankers are contracted this year. A DC 7 in Redmond and Medford along with an
ASM Pilatus PC-7 in Medford have been flying. They arrived last Wednesday. ODF
also has and extra DC-7 that they can put on in a hurry. For this year we require the
tankers to be on 7 days a week. This one is a spare.
We have two ATGS platform and person combinations. One is in Medford and is an
interagency participation with Tom Dorrigan hired as an AD who we are using to sign off
trainees. At John Day we have an aircraft provided by ODF and FS staffing. There will
be a Type 3 at Klamath Falls and a Type 2 at Roseburg. Both are federally carded. It is
hard to find Type 2 aircraft. Some are not carded. ODF activated the National Guard
over the weekend. The HH-60s is all they have. The Firehawk is on standby. The
Pendleton CH-47s are being refitted. Don’t know that we will see them this summer.
Col. Greenwood took over aviation for Col. Tim Kelly.
We are putting a Type 2 in Medford, John Day and Klamath Falls over the weekend.
The Medford ATGS is now flying over at Klamath Falls.
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NIAC Update – DC-10 was put on contract in R-5. Not approved for use on federal
lands. CDF can fly it as an experimental aircraft. The cost is $26K per hour. FAA has
given it an experimental certificate. The independent action clause is under question
again and cooperators want to get reimbursed for suppression actions. The Feds see it
as a blank check if payment is authorized with no controls. This originated from outside
of the PNW. We have completed the approval letters for the Forest Health aircraft and
pilot. The Partinavia could be used for fire, but forest health mission has priority.
AFF – Fire shapes are an overlay that is being made available on the normal java web
interface. A Google Earth display is available to view TFRs as well as aircraft and fires.
The FS and BLM Hazard map also uses the Google Earth interface.
In Hawaii some of our NPS employees were involved in a helicopter accident while
doing ACETA work for a cooperator. The accident is charged to the requestor for the
flight and not the DOI. This accident involved a main rotor blade strike on a MD-500
while attempting to land and let a person off to get the animal carcass.
The Yosemite exclusive use contract has been protested because the vendor is not a
small business. We expect the vendor to be able to complete this year without
interruption, but are expecting to have to re-solicit the contract this winter.
Regional Training sessions
There are a couple of Aviation Centered Education (ACE) sessions scheduled close to
the PNW this coming season. These are set for Sacramento and Boise this year which
should be accessible to most in the PNW. Early planning for a Mini Interagency Aviation
Training session is on hold because of this. Which courses to offer and funding for the
training were in still in question. We were looking for a week long session that included
the B-3 (basic aviation safety) first, then some of the special use manager courses and a
Train the trainer course. At the present time there is no formal needs analysis process
for IAT. All our agencies agree on the need for the classroom training sessions first then
allow persons to use the online refresher. FS still requires the helicopter manager
refresher every other year while IHOG and 310-1 now only require it every three years.
Interagency Aviation Policy:
NIAC is preparing a couple of strategies for national aircraft Meeting in BOI 8/8-9 putting
together the strategy. It will be looking at everything aviation is used for. A primary
question is what is the future for the interagency cooperation? Jim will send members
draft papers of what has been done so for.
AWT 2006 Program of work tracking:
Resource task order aviation resource status. Brad will get the spreadsheet out to the
PNWCG group. The NWCC shared resources report is planned to replace this sheet
and will be maintained up to date on the web. Clay will email the sheet with the
information required for the shared resources report and members will send updated
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daily to the MAC Aviation Liaison. This will go to the Intel folks at NWCC for inclusion in
the daily status report. Clay will refine the process while assigned to NW MAC.
FEPP Cooperator Aircraft
FS has determined that FEPP aircraft need to comply with the same maintenance
standards as civil aircraft. The WADNR helicopters don’t meet this standard which
makes them ineligible for use by federal agencies. An operations plan has been
developed and is being circulated for signatures from PNWCG members.
Other Issues:
The State Airport Manager in Oregon approached Brad to try getting some funding from
fire when an airport is used as a helibase. Some items that were discussed included a
fuel flowage fee, NOTAM access, etc. A $.07 flowage fee per gallon is proposed, but
they are also looking into see if they can get a lump sum instead. Jim Ziobro also met
with them and their conversation centered on their notification when we are using the
airport for fire so they could put out NOTAM for the airport. Nothing was said about the
fuel flowage fee at that time. The State is looking for a way to generate some revenue
that will provide money for airport maintenance and wear and tear.
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