Monday, July 02, 2012

C-130 firefighting air tankers grounded after fatal South Dakota crash

The U.S. Air Force is grounding all firefighting-equipped C-130 planes after a fatal crash of one while it was involved in efforts to subdue a blaze in southwestern South Dakota, a military spokesman said Monday. Air Force spokesman Todd Spitler announced that C-130s with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, won't fly until further notice. The South Dakota crash follows another crash of a firefighing air tanker, along the Nevada-Utah border, several weeks earlier. The Air Force describes MAFFS as "a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. Forest Service that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100-feet wide." Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a spokesman with the North Carolina National Guard -- which operated the plane that went down -- said "about three dozen" aircraft are affected by the Air Force order. The cause of the crash is under investigation, said the National Guard spokesman, who added that he didn't know when the firefighting-equipped C-130s fleet would be able to fly again...more

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