Will Evaluate Performance Of DC-10, 747 Very Large Tankers
NASA is partnering with the US Department of Agriculture's
Forest Service on a project to examine the mission suitability of
Boeing 747 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 fire retardant delivery
The aircraft under study are a DC-10 belonging to 10 Tanker Air
Carrier LLC and a 747 owned by Evergreen International Aviation,
Inc. The DC-10 tanker has already been successfully employed by the
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in past
wildfire suppression missions.
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base,
CA is working with the Forest Service to help determine the safe
flight envelope for these very large air tanker aircraft for both
the Forest Service and the US Department of the Interior.
Additionally, NASA Dryden will recommend operational usage regimes,
policies and procedures for the aircraft. The Forest Service and
the Interior Department approached NASA for help because NASA
provides a range and depth of necessary flight test planning skills
to develop and conduct the assessment.
Mark Dickerson, Dryden project manager, calls this important
"The entire team is very excited about helping the forest
service with this effort. It is a bit different from our typical
research projects, but we all enjoy being able to help find new
tools to fight wildfires," Dickerson said.
As project lead, NASA Dryden is performing operational test and
evaluation assessments. Project engineers will report findings and
recommendations on these aircraft in cooperation with NASA's Ames
Research Center at Moffett Field, CA. NASA Ames' engineers are
supporting the effort with pilot-in-the-loop simulations and are
coordinating simulator models, flight profiles & data analysis
with project staff at NASA Dryden.
Engineers at NASA Dryden will also develop, implement, and
direct an evaluation test plan for use in flight test and in
simulation. The test plan will be designed to evaluate the
suitability of large tanker aircraft for the firefighting mission
environment. Based on this analysis, NASA will propose appropriate
interim flight envelope limitations to enhance safety and
operational utility in the fire retardant delivery mission.
NASA Dryden personnel are working with the crews of the large
tanker aircraft to capture flight validation data, assess the
effectiveness of proposed procedures, and refine those as required.
The final project report will include initial recommendations for
such factors as flight over various terrain types, density altitude
limits, turbulence, and horizontal wind shear limits.