New Equipment Required For Firefighting Helicopters
The U.S. Forest Service has released new standards for equipment
used on helicopters contracted for firefighting operations which
could cost operators as much as $50,000 per aircraft.
The new standards apply to "call when needed" aircraft which
operate on contract with the Forest Service. Media sources
including The Republic from Columbus, IN and the Bend Bulletin
newspaper from Bend, OR report that some of the mandatory equipment
for this class of aircraft will be cable cutting kits, strobe
lights, heated defroster units, and a specific cargo hook. The
service says these are FAA requirements, and that the service is
trying to standardize many areas of operation.
Forest Service Spokesperson Jennifer Jones said the new rules
only apply to "Type III" aircraft, which drop between 100 and 300
gallons of water or retardant or transport eight people. Jones said
the changes were intended to "enhance safety."
But operators say they have been slapped with an unexpected bill
of between $40,000 and $50,000 to stay compliant with the new
rules, and warn that there may be fewer helicopters available
during the fire season.