Flying on fire missions poses inherent dangers, and it’s absolutely essential to ensure your aircraft is ready for anything you might face. To help you get ready and stay safe, we’ve put together a quick post outlining three important things you need to do before you head off.
1. Plan ahead for scheduled maintenance.
If you know you’ll be flying so much that your aircraft will exceed its allotted hours before you can take it for its next maintenance check, get it done before you head off. Preparing in this way will ensure your aircraft are flying safely and compliantly and guarantee that you avoid any potential consequences, such as being grounded and losing out on business.
Another tip? It wouldn’t be aviation if something didn’t break, so think about potential responses to different situations. If you’ll be flying far from home, do some research or ask around to find a local service provider to perform any required maintenance.
2. Make sure your tracking system is compliant with new regulations.
Just because your aircraft were compliant in 2016 doesn’t mean the same holds true for 2017. The 2017 NAFC regulations mandate that aircraft tracking systems forward the new required records for events (such as takeoff and landing) within two minutes of collection.
It’s also important to consider whether or not your tracking system meets your communications needs. Can your pilots communicate back to base? Does your system support communication in remote areas outside of cell reception?
Once you’ve ensured that your system meets your needs, be sure to certify that your pilots understand the system and that they know how to use it to maintain compliance.
3. Maximise your flight time with mission-specific pilot scheduling.
You want to maximise your flight time (after all, if you’re not flying, you’re not making money) — so it’s crucial that you plan your roster to accomplish this. Take into consideration your pilots’ flight and duty times for long fire shifts, and schedule your roster strategically so that you’re in the air as much as possible.
You might also want to think about taking extra pilots along to cover larger missions.
These things might seem obvious, but the bottom line when it comes to fire season is to always be prepared.
Earning money is important, of course, but it’s also critical to make sure we’re minimizing our environment’s suffering with a coordinated firefighting effort. Double- and triple-check that you’re complying with any new regulations in your area, and take extra care that your aircraft and pilots are up to scratch in terms of maintenance and training.
Do you do anything specific to get ready for fire season? Let us (and your fellow pilots) know in the comments.