The US Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to step up efforts to develop inspection and maintenance procedures for ex-military firefighting aircraft, working with the US Forestry Service and air tanker operators. The Forestry Service has grounded 33 multi-engine aircraft leased from private operators, arguing it lacks the capability and resources to ensure their airworthiness (Flight International, 18-24 May)

The FAA says it is prevented by law from assuming responsibility for oversight of the public-use aircraft, but will "kick up" efforts already under way to develop inspection and maintenance procedures for the air tankers, which include Douglas DC-4s and DC-7s and Lockheed P-2s. The agency does not know when, or if, the 40- to 60-year-old aircraft can resume flying as the process involves establishing the stress history of each aircraft in original military operation and subsequent civilian service.

The Forestry Service will move to maintain oversight of the air tankers, but has warned it lacks the resources to compensate operators for the costs of any inspections and maintenance procedures deemed necessary.

Source: Flight International