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From Airlines to Firebombing - Really?

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From Airlines to Firebombing - Really?

Old 23rd Sep 2020, 00:41
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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Curious if anyone here has actually flown a LAT or has any experience in one ?
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Old 23rd Sep 2020, 12:40
  #42 (permalink)  
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You do realise scooping aircraft are already based/ utilised here?
The document I quoted from was written around 1992.

Viking has acquired Bombardier’s Amphibious Aircraft program, which includes Type Certificates for CL-215 and CL-415 and after-market services.
The company has produced a further modernised model of the aircraft, designated as the CL-515 or the Viking Canadair 515 First Responder. This will carry 7000Lts
The next available new production aircraft is 2025.

We have missed the boat!!
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Old 24th Sep 2020, 07:53
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 601 View Post
The document I quoted from was written around 1992.

Viking has acquired Bombardier’s Amphibious Aircraft program, which includes Type Certificates for CL-215 and CL-415 and after-market services.
The company has produced a further modernised model of the aircraft, designated as the CL-515 or the Viking Canadair 515 First Responder. This will carry 7000Lts
The next available new production aircraft is 2025.

We have missed the boat!!

That assumes the 415/515 is the right aircraft.

But if you also think that a few surplus airline pilots can step into a Large Air Tanker then read this:

​​​​​​https://www.atsb.gov.au/media/577867...lBlsPZaBBEnSig
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Old 24th Sep 2020, 14:19
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by TBM-Legend View Post
But if you also think that a few surplus airline pilots can step into a Large Air Tanker then read this:
No one was ever saying that surplus airline pilots could merely "step" into a LAT and immediately begin firefighting ops.

What was proposed was airline pilots using their endorsements and substantial experience on type could enter into an aerial firefighting role as SIC after having received specific aerial firefighting training, then hone their skills to proceed to the LHS once a commensurate experience level was reached. No one suggested getting two stood down airline pilots, shoving them into a tanker and saying "off you go and figure it out for yourselves"

Of course this would be better done as a long term project to create an Australian Aerial Firefighting Service and develop our own home grown capabilities. I could even imagine a reserve style system where some members would fly for an airline during the winter and then spend some time in firefighting role over summer.
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Old 24th Sep 2020, 14:43
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Coulson prefer to recruit experienced firebombing pilots and convert them to the type than take an experienced airliner pilot and train him to firebomb.
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Old 24th Sep 2020, 21:51
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
No one was ever saying that surplus airline pilots could merely "step" into a LAT and immediately begin firefighting ops.

What was proposed was airline pilots using their endorsements and substantial experience on type could enter into an aerial firefighting role as SIC after having received specific aerial firefighting training, then hone their skills to proceed to the LHS once a commensurate experience level was reached. No one suggested getting two stood down airline pilots, shoving them into a tanker and saying "off you go and figure it out for yourselves"

Of course this would be better done as a long term project to create an Australian Aerial Firefighting Service and develop our own home grown capabilities. I could even imagine a reserve style system where some members would fly for an airline during the winter and then spend some time in firefighting role over summer.
I have enough experience of Australian organisational ability, Australian politics, the Green movement, regulators, public servants and Australian unions to categorically state that what you propose, if implemented today, would be an absolute disaster for the country. Do you want me to spell it out? Let Coulson and company do the job and tell the AFAP to but out.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 00:13
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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Dr Dre, this would be a great idea. A long term project to establish an aerial fire fighting capability like the Canadians/USA and Europeans have. As mentioned we could even contract it out in our winter.

Unfortunately, I think SunFish might on the money. We just don’t seem to be able to plan beyond the next election cycle in this country. The debacle of the States v Feds with Covid is showing us that there isn’t any cooperation at state/federal government level on anything.

The reality is, Coulson et al, would still hold the contract, supply the hardware, but would be required to employ and train a percentage of local pilots so in the years to come we would have a skeleton local crew through the winter, with the overseas contingent arriving with more airframes and personnel for the summer.

We currently have a “crew” of pilots and observers, to operate the “Firescan” Learjet, sitting in Nowra, fully paid, not doing anything, they would be a good group to send to Canada/USA to start training.

There would be enough local pilots that have spent the last 10+ years fighting fires in their helo’s and Ag tractors that would be able to step up to some bigger machines, Also ex military guys and girls with low level experience.

One of the biggest hurdles for the LAT’s is the refilling recourses available. So there are some more jobs for our locals. Equipment could be spread around suitable airports, and maybe a few mobile units, and be maintained by the local RFS/CFS or council ready for use as required.

There are sectors of GA that are struggling currently, this could be a legitimate career path for some of those newer pilots.

As the fire seasons seem to be getting longer, they are starting to overlap with the Northern hemisphere, so we need to have some assets on the ground year around. This would allow for training during the “off” season with the CFS during the back burning, thus keeping the crew current and most importantly, SAFE.

The AFAP didn’t just say ex airline pilots, it’s about all Australian pilots getting an opportunity.

The major hurdle in all of this will be CASA, so it’s probably just a pipe dream 😩
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 01:52
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Sunfish View Post
I have enough experience of Australian organisational ability, Australian politics, the Green movement, regulators, public servants and Australian unions to categorically state that what you propose, if implemented today, would be an absolute disaster for the country. Do you want me to spell it out? Let Coulson and company do the job and tell the AFAP to but out.
Funny how in Australia we can provide governmental or private sector contracted to government services for Coastwatch, Maritime Search and Rescue, Air Ambulance, Police Aviation, Military, Aerial Firefighting using smaller aircraft without an apparent issue but Aerial Firefighting using larger aircraft is impossible and would be a "national disaster"? How do those other services seem to operate without being in a state of "national disaster" whereas Coulson are the only people on the planet who can ever perform large scale aerial firefighting? I don't begrudge AFAP at all for trying to develop a native large scale aerial firefighting capability and provide long term jobs for Australians in one of the fire prone nations on earth.

As for interference from the "Green movement" etc, we're not going to bring up those "greenies caused the bushfires" lies again are we? Which have been debunked by the Chief of the NSW RFS, the former NSW Fire Commissioner, the Chief of the Vic CFA, various scientists, frontline Fire Brigades, frontline Firefighters, more frontline Firefighters, even more frontline Firefighters, Green politicians themselves...

And whilst last summer's bushfires may have been replaced by Covid as the topic for uniformed "experts" to argue about on the internet, were you aware that the NSW Government released their inquiry into the bushfires in August? You should have a read, because almost every lie about those fires that was repeated throughout the media last summer was debunked.

Fuel loads weren't substantially higher than previous years, greenies weren't stopping hazard reduction, primary cause of the scale of the fires was the dryness of the vegetation and extreme weather conditions, arson was not a cause of any of the major fires and hazard reduction burning only has a limited effect on the most severe fires.

Whilst not commenting directly on who should be providing the pilots the inquiry backed more use of larger air tankers, RPAS, better funding and more use of local simulators with training carried out by the RFS, not an external provider.

Last edited by dr dre; 25th Sep 2020 at 05:17.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 02:30
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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You missed this bit dr:

We need to grab what is becoming possible in terms of unmanned aircraft and vehicles, and think big about what will make fire
fighting, and living in the community with fire, safer.
which negates the whole argument regarding crewing of LAT with Australian pilots.

In regards to the report I found that the best app to have on the phone during the fire crisis was the one that gave me access to the radio communication of the fire units. I was on the South Coast after the worst of the fires but you can get a lot of information out of the content and tone of the radio chatter.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 06:29
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Eclan View Post
Coulson prefer to recruit experienced firebombing pilots and convert them to the type than take an experienced airliner pilot and train him to firebomb.
Eclan,

So the SIC and FE of Bomber 134 were the exception rather than the rule? ATSB report states this year was their first fire season.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 07:07
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Crew qualifications in this are interesting. The report that PIC was endorsed low level but there is no mention of 250 hours or low level qualifications of the FO or FE.
I'm not sure what would apply to the FE as in the case of Hercs, is a PFE not a pilot FE. I would have thought. any FE operating in this environment would need some extra training although it is possible that both had some prior USAF training that was not documented. If so why did CASA not ask prior to operations commencing?

What is also interesting is that all 3 crew appear to have been reservists. Their hours are very low verses the time spent in the forces. I wouild be interested to know if the UASF reservists had a different minimum altitude dump level to the private fire bombers? There may be something on that within the Fire Aviation website.

I would suggest that under the CASA system it would be very hard to blend the crop dusting time with heavy aircraft time. Multi crew ops are very different to single pilot ops. Anyone who has both would in normal times stay in the airline industry. For any operator fire bombing with heavies would surely be seen by crew as a stepping stone up or maybe a retirement job. Given the flying, intermittent pay and anti social work conditions I would suspect not too many airline pilots would want this as a retirement job.

I may also be jumping too soon but its interesting that in a short period of less than a year there have been 2 critical avionics and avionics procedure failures of US fire bombers out of a very small sample of aircraft. In this case it seems that the voice recorder had tripped in the US and was not picked up for a long period. There was no procedure to check it on a daily basis either . In my experience on "heavies" this would to be checked each sector by crew or engineering or both . Earlier there was a situation where a VLA left the West Coast of the US bound for Australia with no operational HFs. The antennae connections were sitting detached from the transceivers and neither engineering checks nor crew checks picked that up. Again normal airline ops would have checked this on the ground..

Maybe just coincidence or is the standard of at least avionics maintenance a bit lower than would be expected?
At this stage its too early to call, but if this keeps up I cant help but think that the imports are being held to a lower standard than the locals?.

Wunwing

Last edited by Wunwing; 25th Sep 2020 at 07:19.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 13:22
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by HomeJames View Post
Eclan,

So the SIC and FE of Bomber 134 were the exception rather than the rule? ATSB report states this year was their first fire season.
I don't know about that but what I said was paraphrasing something I read in an article in which one of their senior management was quoted.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 23:12
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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This saga says a lot about the Coulson culture. That C-130 didn't pass the USFS inspection in Boise Idaho on its first attempt and their operations manual seems to be wanting. The NSW RFS bought the B737 as a multi-role LAT able to carry pax as well as fire bombing [not at the same time] but being in Restricted Category no pax allowed other than essential crew. That the CVR hadn't worked since May 19 and it's not in the check-list again is an issue. The crew pressed on and were not cancelled by their ops people is also telling of a cultural deficiency too...early in the season they cancelled some Bird Dogs flights as the crew were not current IFR...
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 00:51
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I have 17 years of firebombing experience, finishing up on the Lockheed Electra. The only airline guys we had worked their way up from bush operations before flying for an airline and kept their hands and feet up to speed flying homebuilts, floatplanes, warbirds etc. A zero straight to shiny jet guy never made it through training in my company, the kind of flying was just too different.

That being said the pure Ag or Beaver on floats guys never made it to the big iron fire bombers and did their whole career on VFR single pilot small tankers. Again the kind of flying was just too different.
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 02:41
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Originally Posted by Big Pistons Forever View Post
I have 17 years of firebombing experience, finishing up on the Lockheed Electra. The only airline guys we had worked their way up from bush operations before flying for an airline and kept their hands and feet up to speed flying homebuilts, floatplanes, warbirds etc. A zero straight to shiny jet guy never made it through training in my company, the kind of flying was just too different.

That being said the pure Ag or Beaver on floats guys never made it to the big iron fire bombers and did their whole career on VFR single pilot small tankers. Again the kind of flying was just too different.
Rings true with what I see in aero-medical. I see any number of recently retired airline captains who like the idea of a little light aero-medical flying to keep their hand in! (And it's always their "passion" - a turn-off word if ever.) The only ones who make it are the very few people who've maintained a good level of GA and single-pilot flying. (For perspective, we don't do "emergencies", no landing on the highway, no unapproved ALAs.) Our aero-medical is just too different from airline work; the stresses and priorities are completely different. You can't fall back on an ops manual and route procedures that cover all situations - you're regularly going somewhere you've never been before, at short notice, in poor conditions.

The last airline pilot to join us told me that (despite continuous single-pilot GA throughout his career) that he'd never worked as hard as during one of our "normal" days - now step up to a busy day.

So think about the difference between airline ops (big support teams, known routes, scheduled ops, detailed compliance to ops manual) and fire-bombing (limited support, always new/unknown locations, always on-demand ops, ops manual that permits/expects crew to be pilots) - the bombers flying appallingly long days (day after day), knowing people will die and homes will burn if they don't get through, in conditions would routinely ground airline ops.

Maybe you could carefully select some airline crew, and train them into firebombing, but I guess it would take many years for them to be up to speed and effective. That would be very expensive training. (And before some bright spark comments, no, there is no sim that replicates the stress and conditions of that kind of operation.)

Last edited by drpixie; 26th Sep 2020 at 07:01. Reason: clarify
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 08:07
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Originally Posted by drpixie View Post
Rings true with what I see in aero-medical. I see any number of recently retired airline captains who like the idea of a little light aero-medical flying to keep their hand in! (And it's always their "passion" - a turn-off word if ever.)
It’s funny how everyone seems to have lots of stories of all these “retired airline pilots” who suddenly decide to take up strenuous single pilot GA careers on retirement en masse. I’ve known plenty of retired airline pilots, every single one of them upon retirement from their airline retires from full time work full stop. A few take up something like casual instructing or scenic flights but a new career in a demanding single pilots job generally aimed at younger people??

If those stories are true however it may be more of a case of age more than anything else. Some airline pilots around retirement age have had difficulty transitioning from one type of airliner to another, as evidenced by the article below. I think maybe a more viable target for a single pilot aerial work job would be one in their 30s or 40s who is well motivated and enthusiastic. Not withstanding the older pilots who have the same level of drive and adaptability as well:

Air New Zealand 'shafted' elderly pilots over Airbus training
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 21:53
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Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
It’s funny how everyone seems to have lots of stories of all these “retired airline pilots” who suddenly decide to take up strenuous single pilot GA careers on retirement en masse. I’ve known plenty of retired airline pilots, every single one of them upon retirement from their airline retires from full time work full stop. A few take up something like casual instructing or scenic flights but a new career in a demanding single pilots job generally aimed at younger people??
Isn't that the truth, any Airline Pilot that has been in a multicrew airline operation for the last 20+ years and nothing else has zero chance of going back to a commercial single pilot IFR job.
They all think they can though, myself included. About the only way back to single pilot IFR in anything high performance is in your own aircraft, even then it takes 6 months to get back up to speed, there is so much you have to do and think about yourself, if you ever knew how to do it in the first place. Hands up anyone who has built their own one engine out departure obstacle clearance flight path procedure. (aircraft type specific) or built a flight plan from scratch for that matter.

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Old 26th Sep 2020, 22:43
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DRs and Xeptu,

You are talking about the previous aviation world, one that has disappeared thank to Covid. I know of over 1000 EK pilots who are now out of work. Many of them, myself included, are not ready for "Retirement". DrPixie - I think you don't really know the challenges of working for an Airline like EK. Due to their vast network, you could be rostered to go to a destination somewhere on the planet you have never been to, at night, to conditions that most Australian pilots will never face. eg Minus 20deg C cold weather ops, having crossed the Himalayas into Beijing, or across the North Pole to JFK, or into Moscow, or Harare, etc. I know dozens of airline captains that are ex military, ex ga, ex charter, and very very experienced in their past lives. I really don't think its a stretch for these ex airline pilots to undertake whatever role they desire or are motivated to take. It's a new aviation world out there.
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 23:05
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Originally Posted by Capn Rex Havoc View Post
DRs and Xeptu,

You are talking about the previous aviation world, one that has disappeared thank to Covid. I know of over 1000 EK pilots who are now out of work. Many of them, myself included, are not ready for "Retirement". DrPixie - I think you don't really know the challenges of working for an Airline like EK. Due to their vast network, you could be rostered to go to a destination somewhere on the planet you have never been to, at night, to conditions that most Australian pilots will never face. eg Minus 20deg C cold weather ops.
Sure! It's a different operation in a different world, I didn't mean it was impossible. Our Airline Pilots have it easy really, everything is done for us and we go to the same major centres, very rarely is something new, unless it's a charter operation. I'm talking about single pilot IFR, where you're it, no assistance, 24 hours notice. It takes awhile to spool up to that.
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Old 27th Sep 2020, 07:19
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I'm talking about single pilot IFR, where you're it, no assistance, 24 hours notice. It takes awhile to spool up to that.
I think you will find that about 98% of Australian airline pilots have been there done that, many would have been doing it in the pre internet briefing period too. It's not that hard these days honestly. You guys make out like you are flying into interstellar space.
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