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Forest & FTC Zone Aviation Plan 2011

Edited by: Mark A Michelsen February 7, 2011

Mark Michelsen, Airtanker Base Manager

Reviewed by: Sandra Lafarr June 8, 2011

Sandra LaFarr, Regional Aviation Officer - or -

J. Kent Hamilton, Regional Aviation Safety Manager

Edited & Recommended by: Geoffrey J Bell June 6, 2011

Geoffrey Bell, Fire Management Officer / Forest Aviation Officer

Approved by: Glenn P Casamassa June 14, 2011

Glenn Casamassa, Forest Supervisor

1. Ensure Pilot and aircraft are approved for the planned flight (mission).
2. Obtain weather forcasts, winds and visibility within prescribed limits.
3. Determine flight plan is complete, filed with agency, flight following proceedures established and flight following operational.
4. Use only personnel trained and qualified for mission and follow agency standard operating procedures.
5. Ensure weight and balance calculations are completed and being adhered to by the pilot.
6. Pilot briefed by personnel on intended mission and hazards.
7. Obtain hazard map and reveiw for low-level flights.
8. Provide aircraft safety briefing to all passengers.
9. Determine pilot flight/duty limitations are not exceeded.
10. Stay alert, be calm, think clearly, and act decisively.
1. Any deviation from assigned flight plan or mission, you are driven by a sense of urgency.
2. It is unclear who is in charge of the mission.
3. Not informed on strategy, tactics, and hazards.
4. Instructions and assignments not clear, conflicting priorities.
5. No communication link with ground crews/supervisors, and communications are getting tense.

6. Other aircraft assigned/operating in the area.

7. There is a better type aircraft for the mission, or way to do it.
8. An escape route has not been planned.
9. Cargo has not been checked or secured.
10. Required survival equipment is not available.
11. Required personal protective equipment is not available, or not worn.
12. Agency rules or standard operating procedures are not adhered to.


Introduction 5

Local Environment and Conditions 5

Responsibilities and Authorities 5

Area Airports, Helibases and Directories 7

Aircraft Certification and Qualification 7

Aircraft Availability 8

Pilot Qualifications and Certification 9

Pilot Briefings 9

Pilot Flight and Duty Limitations 10

Operating Procedures 10

Operational Policy 17

Ordering, Dispatching and Controlling Flights 19

Special Projects 20

Aerial Observer 20

Post Flight Procedures 23

Incident/Accident Reporting 23

Air Space Restrictions 24

Airtanker Base Operations 26

Helicopter Operations 26

Cooperator Requests 27

Inspections 27

Training 28

Computer applications 28

Aircraft Incident/Accident Action Plan 28

Supplemental Documents & References 29

This aviation operations plan provides guidance for an effective, efficient, and safe aviation program for the interagency wildfire cooperators of the northern front range of Colorado. The plan is a guide that condenses direction from the Forest Service Manual (FSM 5700), Flight Operations Handbook 5709.16, plus additional Forest Aviation Policy and interagency agreements. This Plan is an addition, not a replacement for Forest Service Manuals and Handbooks. Any questions regarding this plan should be taken first to the ARF Forest Aviation Officer (FAO) or Acting, and second, to the Regional Aviation Officer, if the FAO is not available. It is important that the users of aircraft always put safety first!
This plan is written for the individual who is unfamiliar with current Forest Service and interagency aviation policies and needs a quick reference. This plan includes information for the user of the aircraft including: definitions of terms, pre-flight planning, flight operations, and post-flight procedures for most Forest Service and interagency aviation missions. These missions include point-to-point and reconnaissance, restricted airspace, coordinating news media, air tanker, and helicopter operations, disaster preparedness, outservice cooperation and inspections.
The interagency cooperators of the northern front range of Colorado have a diverse aviation program that includes both fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and aviation bases. Area topography ranges from low rolling plains in the east to elevations greater than 14,000 feet along the Continental Divide. Mountain weather changes quickly and could produce adverse conditions, such as thunderstorms, high winds, icing, turbulence, downdrafts, etc. It is the responsibility of all aircraft users to utilize aircraft in a responsible and safe manner in compliance with Forest Service and interagency policy.
The elevation of the area ranges from 3,000 feet on the plains of eastern Colorado to over 14,000 feet on the major mountain peaks of the forest. The majority of the area is steep and highly dissected with canyons and drainages.
The climate is characterized by frequently windy Spring seasons. This is followed by the unstable air conditions in June, July, August, and September with thunderstorms developing over the mountains; these storms generally move to the north and east. Upslope conditions occur in winter and spring where fog or rain and snow conditions form on the plains and back up against the mountains. In this situation front range airports occasionally experience low or near zero ceilings, while clear weather may prevail at higher elevations above 7000 feet. There is also a great difference in air temperatures at Front Range airports opposed to those in the mountains.
These varied climatic conditions can create potential hazards to aviation safety and requires thorough pre-mission planning. Some specific hazards that may be encountered are:
1. High density altitudes.

2. Rapid deterioration of weather conditions.

3. Mountain Wave

4. Turbulence, up and down drafts, strong winds, wind shear, and thunderstorms.

5. Pressure Altitude
Are addressed in detail in the Forest Service Manual 5704, and interagency guides and plans.
1. Regional Aviation Officer, Sandra LaFar, 303-275-5740, Golden.
Regional Aviation officers are responsible for directing and managing regional and Area aviation programs in accordance with all applicable directives including Federal Aviation Regulations, the National Aviation Management Plan and National Aviation Safety Plan. These responsibilities include:

  1. Ensuring that Regional/Area and forest/station plans are supplemented and updated annually to ensure compliance with the current National Aviation Plan, written annually by the Washington Office Director of Fire and Aviation staff.

  2. Reviewing Project Aviation Safety Plans and Forest Aviation Plans, including cost comparisons, risk assessment and job hazard analyses.

  3. Ensuring compliance with aviation management and safety policies and procedures.

  4. Conducting safety evaluations of aviation operations.

  5. Coordinating with the Regional Aviation Safety Manager on aviation safety and accident prevention matters.

  6. Maintaining coordination with Forest Service Aviation Officers on Forest aviation matters.

2. Forest Supervisor Glenn Casamassa: 970-295-6600, SO, Fort Collins.

  1. Establish, administer, and manage national aviation resources assigned to the Forest and oversee an aviation program responsive to the Forest's needs in accordance with current direction.

  2. Supplement the Aviation Management Plan as appropriate.

  3. Ensure that projects and activities involving the use of aircraft are planned in advance by qualified personnel.

  4. Designate forest aviation officers (FSH 5709.16).

  5. Approve all aviation operations on the forest in advance of commencing operations. With the exception of Aviation Plans or related documents requiring line officer approval, this authority may be delegated. (See 5711.04)

3. Forest Aviation Officer Geoffrey Bell: 970-295-6631, Fort Collins.

Forest aviation officers are responsible for aviation activities at the forest level including responsibility to:

  1. Oversee aviation mission planning, operations, and risk assessment.

  2. Ensure compliance with aviation management, safety policies, and procedures.

  3. Provide input and follow-up to SAFECOMS involving aviation operations on the Forest.

  4. Conduct periodic safety evaluations of aviation operations.

  5. Evaluate aircraft effectiveness, including cost and utilization.

  6. Administer helicopter and fixed wing contracts and other aviation support contracts as needed. None exist on the ARF or the FTC Zone.

  7. Ensure that all Forest Aviation Plans and Project Aviation Safety Plans are supplemented, updated annually, reviewed, and approved at the appropriate management level.

  8. Coordinate with Regional Office aviation management as necessary.

  9. Coordinate Forest aviation training.

4. Airtanker Base Manager, Mark Michelsen: 303-439-0332, Broomfield.

The Airtanker Base Manager (ATBM) is responsible for all Airtanker, Fixed wing, and rotory aircraft operations at the Jeffco Airtanker Base. The ATBM will serve as the backup FAO, in the absence of the FAO.
5. Fort Collins Interagency Dispatch Center, Mark Nelson, 970-295-6830, Fort Collins

The FTC Manager is responsible for ordering and dispatching aircraft, ensuring that flight plans have been made, flight following, coordinating aviation projects, and maintaining vendor aircraft and pilot agreements.

6. District Rangers

a. Keep the Forest Supervisor and Forest Aviation Officer informed concerning the existing use of aircraft and the need for aircraft services to accomplish District work.

b. Request technical assistance in planning and supervision of aviation operations.
c. Ensures that project aviation plan has been developed and approved for all planned aviation projects.
7. All Forest Service Employees / Interagency Cooperators

a. All personnel requiring aircraft services shall place their order with FTC. All personnel are responsible for reporting any aviation activity observed which they believe to be done in a hazardous manner to the appropriate agency authority.

b. When conditions indicate further aviation activity will jeopardize the safe conduct of the operation, employees will initiate action to stop the operation and report using the SAFECOM format (FS-5700-14) circumstances and action taken to the official in charge.

  1. Prepare Project Aviation Safety Plans in conjunction with FAO.

1. Airports: See appendix “B” for Airport Diagrams and Information.
2. Helibases / Helispots: See Supplemental Documents and References (p. 29)
An established and approved single-ship helibase on the Forest is located at the Forest Service Work Center at Redfeather Lakes. Jeffco Airtanker Base is establised and approved to operate as a multi-aircraft helibase. When necessary to construct helispots, they will be built in accordance with IHOG standards.
Aircraft approved for U.S.Forest Service and interagency use will be issued cards indicating missions for which they are approved. Cards will be valid for one year from date of issue . Cards will be carried aboard the aircraft when operating on a Forest Service or interagency mission, and will be presented for inspection upon the request of any employee. Any aircraft approved and carded by the AMD may be used by the Forest Service for those specific missions (identified on the card) authorized by AMD (low-level recon and game counting excepted). Forest Service re-inspection and carding will be at the discretion of the Regional Air Officer, or Zone Officers.
1. All aircraft will be functionally equipped as specified either in the contract or the rental agreement form.
2. Aircraft will be equipped in accordance with FAR 135, and will meet or exceed all equipment requirements for missions for which the aircraft is approved. This includes, but is not limited to; IFR conditions and oxygen requirements for flights over 10,000 feet under 30 minutes in duration.
3. Each aircraft will also be equipped with the following safety-related equipment.

a. An FAA approved shoulder harness for each front seat occupant.

b. One or more FAA approved strobe lights.
4. Aircraft shall not be approved if engine time exceeds the manufacturer's recommended TBO. New or overhauled engines must accumulate three hours of operating time prior to USFS use. This time will include a minimum of two hours continuous flight time on the engine. In the case of a double engine change, each engine shall have a minimum of five hours flight time on that aircraft, at least two hours of which shall have been continuous.
5. All manufacturers' Mandatory Service Bulletins and Supplimental Type Certificates shall be complied with.
6. All maintenance records and other documents needed to verify data for aircraft approval shall be made available for the inspectors.
7. Single engine aircraft will not be approved for night or IFR operation. Certain night operations not involving passengers may be conducted at the discretion of the RAO or Zone Officers as outlined under OPERATING RULES. The pilot is the final authority as to the safety of the mission.
8. All aircraft flown on Forest Service or interagency missions within Region, refer to Region 2 Aviation Plan.
1. U. S. Forest Service

Currently, there are two USFS aircraft operated by the Aviation Group in the Rocky Mountain Region. They are based most of the year at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport in Broomfield, CO. The aircraft are available to other staff disciplines on request to the FTC dispatch Center. These aircraft are a Cessna 206 and a King Air 90 Leadplane.

2. Call-When-Needed Aircraft: See Call When Needed Aircraft Reference Binder, located in FTC Dispatch, updated annually by the FTC Aviation Dispatcher.
3. Contract Aircraft
The Pike - San Isabel National Forests annually contracts a light helicopter during fire season; this ship is stationed at the Monument Fire Center, Monument, Colorado, and is available for fire and resource project work.
A heavy airtanker for aerial delivery of fire retardant is sometimes available at the Jeffco Airtanker Base during fire season.
The Colorado State Forest Service has single-engine light airtankers on contract. These aircraft specifications vary annually. Contact FTC for current information. Fort Collins Interagency Dispatch Center will maintain a current copy of the SEAT Operations Plan. For specific SEAT information refer to the Rocky Mountain Mob Guide, Chapter 80, Section 83.3.1.
A Type 1 Helitanker is based and available at the Jeffco ATB provided national/regional fire activity is minimal.
All of these aircraft are ordered through FTC.

See attached Pilot Safety Briefing
Pilots approved for U.S. Forest Service and interagency use will be issued cards indicating missions for which they are approved. Cards will be carried on the pilot's person whenever flying a Forest Service or interagency mission, and will be presented for inspection upon the request of any employee of the U.S.Forest Service or cooperating agency. Pilots will fly only those missions for which they have been approved. Any pilot who has been approved and carded by the National Business Center, Aviation Management (NBCAV) formally known as OAS may be used by the Forest Service for those specific missions authorized by the NBCAV with the exception of any operations conducted below 500' AGL. Forest Service carding will be at the discretion of the Regional Aviation Officer.
Refer to 2011 U.S. Forest Service Region 2 Aviation Management Safety Plan p.17.
Flight hazard maps are available and located in FTC Dispatch Center (aircraft desk) and JeffCo Airtanker Base Pilot briefing room. Maps are updated annually or as significant changes occur.

The pilot will study local area maps and become familiar with hazards to flight such as towers, power lines, cables, mountainous terrain, and military low level training routes. District Fire Duty Officers (or Forest Duty Officer brief incoming / visiting aviation resources (helitack Crews) using the standard FTC-Zone briefing package, containing maps, organization charts, radio frequency lists, pocket cards and other pertinent fire operations information. The briefing packet is updated as needed, most recently in 2010.

The pilot is responsible for:
1. The safe accomplishment of the mission, security and condition of the aircraft and cargo, and the safety of the passengers.

2. Observing policies concerning operation of the aircraft, authorized passengers, and mission requirements.

3. Postponing, changing, or cancelling flights when he/she believes existing or impending conditions make them unsafe.

Forest Service management has mission control and authority to order the mission, delay or cancel the flight as deemed necessary. The pilot has the last say as to whether the mission can be accomplished safely. This is a team approach. The desired result is safe mission accomplishment.

Employees have the authority and responsibility to cancel or delay flight operations if they deem there are unsafe conditions or situations.
All pilots flying Forest Service missions will be limited to the following tours of duty. All flying, parts 135, 133, 137 and part 91 (including ferry flights) count towards that limitation.
1. Flight time will not exceed a total of 8 hours per day. Two pilot crews flying point-to-point (airport to airport, heliport to heliport, etc.) will be limited to 10 hours flight time per day. Pilots flying point-to-point who are also flying other Forest Service missions will be limited to 8 hours flight time per day.
2. Flight time will not exceed a total of 42 hours in any 6 consecutive days.
3. Pilots accumulating 36 to 42 hours of flying time in any 6 consecutive days will be off-duty the following full calendar day.
4. Within any 24 hour period, pilots will have a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off duty immediately prior to the beginning of any duty day.
5. Duty includes flight time, ground duty of any kind, and standby or alert status at any location.
6. During any 14 consecutive days, pilots will be off duty for 2 full calendar days. Days off duty need not be consecutive. A duty day is any day a flight is made or 4 hours or more of duty is performed.
The following is intended as information to passengers / users: All operations, unless otherwise more limited, will be conducted in strict accordance with applicable FAR'S. Any violations will be reported to the Regional Aviation Safety Officer or Regional Aviation Offier.
1. PILOT AND AIRCRAFT USE. Only pilots and aircraft specifically approved and carded by the USFS or AMD will be used, and then only for those missions for which approved.
Dispatch will arrange for the plane and time, but it is up to the Fixed-wing Flight Manager to check for proper "N" number of plane, Forest Service aircraft card, and the pilot's Forest Service card. There are a number of different cards for both aircraft and pilot. These cards will be Issued by Aviation Management Directorate (AMD).
When checking aircraft cards, the expiration date and "N" number on the aircraft tail must match what the aircraft use is carded for and the inspectors signature. If you have any questions about the card or the plan, call FTC dispatch or the Forest Aviation Officer.
Pilot cards should be checked for expiration date, type of aircraft, type of authorized use, proper name, and type of flying, such as day and night, VFR and/or IFR.
Cards are not required for scheduled commercial airlines. Licensed pilots may not fly on official business unless approved by Regional Aviation Officer and carded.
The following types of aircraft will not be used by Forest Service employees for transportation:
a. Aircraft that are not carded.

b. Air tankers.

c. Aerial application aircraft - seeding, spraying.

d. Helicopters carrying a sling load.

e. Military aircraft - unless there is written approval from the Regional Aviation Officer.

f. Any aircraft that does not meet contract specifications.

2. PRE-FLIGHT. The following applies to both point-to-point travel and reconnaissance flights and is intended as information to passengers / users: Aircraft needed for fire or project work will be ordered through the dispatch center. The dispatch center will obtain the aircraft. When ordering aircraft, specify the number of passengers, expected duration of flight, mission, and destination. This should be done by the Fixed wing Flight Manager or Fixed Wing Flight Manager-Special Use. Qualifications are listed in the Interagency Aviation Training Guide.

If unsure of required aircraft, consult the FTC Aviation Desk or the Forest Aviation Officer. It is important to note that an aircraft may have seats for "x" number of passengers, but may not be able to carry all of the load due to performance capabilities. Ordering should be done at least a week or two in advance unless it is an emergency. Most aircraft are available on a first-come-first-service basis unless it is an emergency.

Dispatch should be notified of flight plans in advance in order for preflight planning to be done. If any changes are made, both dispatch and the pilot should be notified. Pilots need to be notified of passenger weights and cargo so weight and balance and fuel computation can be accomplished. The pilot must know approximate duration of the mission and/or approximate distance. The pilot is responsible for computing fuel reserves so be ready to give specifics of approximate duration of the mission. Duration could be expressed in hours or distance.
3. PREFLIGHT INSPECTIONS. Daily preflight inspections by the pilot are mandatory. The preflight inspection will be accomplished prior to the first flight of the day and prior to the start of the daily availability (if applicable).
4. AIRCRAFT CLEANLINESS. Aircraft will be maintained in a neat and clean condition, both inside and out.
5. SUBSTITUTE AIRCRAFT. A carded aircraft of different make and model will not be substituted for that ordered without the prior approval of the Forest Service Dispatcher who ordered the flight.
6. LOADING PROCEDURES. The pilot will insure the aircraft is operated within allowable weight and balance conditions. Performance charts will be used to determine aircraft performance. Cargo will be secured when carried within the cabin. All engines will be shut down while loading or unloading passengers or cargo.
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