The US Forest Service (USFS), which operates a substantial fleet of fixed-wing aircraft for fire-fighting missions, is upgrading its fleet of Shorts SD3-60 Sherpas with the Garmin G950 integrated flightdeck.

The retrofit is designed to increase the mission effectiveness of the twin-engined turboprops - previously in service with the US Army - and extend the type's operational life within USFS where it is deployed for passenger and cargo transportation, fire management and smokejumper missions.

Field Aviation is carrying out the modernisation at its Oklahoma City base, with the first aircraft inducted into the upgrade process in October last year.

The engineering company has a contract with the USFS for the enhancement of four aircraft, plus an option to convert the remaining 11 examples.

Supplemental type certification for the upgrade is scheduled for August, leading to delivery of the first aircraft by the end of the third quarter. Modifications on the remaining three Sherpas should be complete by the end of 2017.

USFS Sherpa

United States Forestry Service

The G950 replaces the Sherpa’s original round-dial, six-pack cockpit. It features synthetic vision technology “giving the flight crew easier access to the information they need”, says Garmin.

Flightplan information is overlaid on a rich, dynamic map displaying airspace, rivers, lakes, parks and woodland areas – typical landscapes for USFS missions.

The platform, which is 115kg (250lb) lighter than the analogue system - also incorporates a terrain awareness and warning system, wide area augmentation system, and localiser performance with vertical guidance approach capability.

Source: Flight International