The U.S. Forest Service has released a days off schedule for the 13 large air tankers that are under exclusive use contracts as we begin to move into the 2020 wildfire season.
The contracts and companies supplying the aircraft are the same as last year but the schedule confirms the administrative bases and the days off. The locations do not mean the air tanker will spend a certain amount of time at that base. Only one of the 13 tankers is identified on the list, Tanker 101, an Aero Air MD-87 with an administrative base at Medford, Oregon that began its Mandatory Availability Period March 12.
There are so few large airtankers on exclusive use contracts that dispatchers have to guess where fires will erupt and move the aircraft around, like whack-a-mole. None of the tankers this year will be staffed seven days a week, and the DC-10s will have two days off each week. In 2019, 20 percent of the requests for large air tankers were unfilled during a year in which the number of acres burned in the lower 48-states was the least since 2004.
The hourly and daily rates were redacted on the document that the Forest Service released. On the image at the top of the article I cropped off those blank columns to make the remaining information that was not censored more readable.
The Next-Generation 3.0 exclusive use air tanker solicitation that was first published November 19, 2018 has still not been awarded.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Robert. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
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Author: Bill Gabbert
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