Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Visit to Downstown - Availability of SEATs in NJ

As you may recall, I wrote about my here about my recent visit to Downstown Airport in Vineland NJ, the home base of Downstown Aero Crop Services.

As I was reflecting on the upcoming articles that I will be writing on SEAT operations at Downstown, I found myself considering that all but one of these articles -- today's article -- will post after the "spring fire season" here in NJ has ended, and with it the end of the period of what I will call mandatory availability. By mandatory availability, I am referring to a period of time, varying by region, where at least one SEAT is on the ramp ready to take-off in five minutes to make a drop on a wildfire. As I write this, the SEATs in Division A (north Jersey) and Division C (central Jersey) are finished for the season. Bravo 1 in Division B will be finished at the end of the day today, May 9.

However, while SEAT operations here in NJ for the spring fire season are wrapping up here in NJ, SEAT operations are still ongoing or have yet to begin elsewhere in the U.S. A point to remember for those of us in NJ is that Downstown continues to make four Ag Cats and one Air Tractor 602 available for emergency wild fire conditions outside of the period of mandatory availability during the spring fire season. It is my understanding that these SEATs will be flying within one hour after Downstown is notified by the NJ Forest Fire Service that emergency wild fire conditions exist.

In coming articles in this series, I will be writing about topics including but not necessarily limited to dispatch, loading the SEAT, what happens in the cockpit during a run. While there are likely to be some differences between SEAT bases, all bases are going to have a dispatch center, and a loading pit. Some are going to have full maintenance shops as Downstown does and some are not, but most will have an area where repairs can be made to the SEAT between runs.

Stay tuned. Next up on May 11: dispatch

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