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SEAT questions

capnflyright

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I would like to get some clarification on being carded for SEAT ops. Minimum FS time requirements and the procedures to get qualified. Thank you in advance.
 

avbug

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Dec 14, 2001
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The basic requirements for all contract pilots are the same, in fixed wing:

1. All Airplanes Minimum Experience Flying Hours

Total time 1,500

Pilot-in-command total 1,200

Pilot-in-command hours:


Category and class to be flown 200
Fixed-wing - preceding 12 months 100
Cross-country 500
Operations in low level mountainous terrain 200
Night 100
Instrument - in flight 50
Instrument - actual/simulated 75
Make and model to be flown 25
Make and model - preceding 60 days 10
That said, I don't know anyone who flies SEATs or a tanker as PIC with those numbers.

For the SEAT program, one cannot obtain a card, or attend the schools, unless hired by and sponsored by a company. An online course is required, as well as an online grand canyon SFAR qualification. Training in Boise is mandatory, which includes several days of training and a written test. An oral exam is also provided. You must satisfy the company and insurance training requirements, of course...which often require at least a thousand hours of ag time, mountain time, and of course conventional gear time...as well as high performance large conventional gear time. You'll be required to attend a hands-on training school in Safford, AZ (which involves multiple classroom days and multiple drops and live training exercises).

There are two levels of carding. The first is Level II, in which you must have supervision over the fire and are restricted from fires with more than a few aircraft overhead. A level I qualification gives you greater privilege and operating latitude. You will need to be a level II for at least the first year, and meet certain experience requirements in order to apply for the Level I card.

The majority of SEAT airplanes are single seat, and operators aren't interested in teaching someone to fly an ag airplane...so unless someone shows up with solid ag time and tailwheel experience under their belt, chances are they won't stand any chance of being considered. A checkout in the airplane is done plane-side; nobody can take you up there and show you how to fly it. Some of the airplanes aren't stable and don't fly like much of what you may be used to flying; let go of the stick at any given time and the airplane is going to do what it wants to do...not necessarily what you want it to do.

Communications over the fire can be a challenge, and not surprisingly a big part of the training is directed to that end. Several years ago at Safford during the school, a pilot was killed while changing frequency on his radio. That may sound ridiculous, but my policy has been to leave the fire traffic area and fly to an open area and climb if I have to change frequencies...and it's not uncommon over a fire to have four or five frequencies going at one time.

The first step will be to find an operator who is willing to hire you, and the operator will guide you through the steps from there.

www.fs.fed.us/im/directives/fsh/5709.16/5709.16_10.doc

www.fs.fed.us/fire/av_safety/Systems_Safety/av_risk_mgt/Final SMS SEAT%20Assessment_3_27_08.pdf
 
Last edited:

avbug

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SEATS are contracted under the BLM, however, the carding process is universal through the Office of Aircraft Services/Office of Aircraft Management, and the same requirements apply.

As a SEAT pilot, I spent nearly an equal amount of time fighting BLM fires and USFS fires (as well as BIA, state, etc).
 
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