Hot Loading

Aviation: Airtanker
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Nov 2020


When hot loading is executed properly, it can expedite airtankers returning to an incident and save on turbine/jet engine starts. Hot loading is defined as loading an airtanker with one or more propulsion engines running. Each base must have an approved plan specific to hot loading. The Airtanker Base Manager (ATBM) will determine when hot loading is approved.

Discuss the procedures for hot loading specific to your base.

Each airtanker vendor must have an approved risk assessment and specific procedures directly related to each type of airtanker that is requesting to hot load. There are three categories of airtanker contracts that may be requesting hot loading approval:

  • Cal Fire contracted S-2.
  • BLM/USFS/State contracted Single Engine Airtanker (SEAT).
  • USFS/State contracted Large Airtanker (LAT) and Very Large Airtanker (VLAT).

All airtankers must give a briefing on the procedures for hot loading on their first visit to each airtanker base each season. All ramp personnel shall take part in this briefing.

  • What is unique to your base about hot loading?
  • Are you authorized to hot load all of the airtankers that can come to your base?

Can the Fixed Wing Parking Tender (FWPT) view engine(s) left running and be able to monitor loading operations simultaneously?

  • If this can’t be done, are there other qualified personnel to deploy?
  • Should there ever be a time the FWPT cannot see the loaders and the running engines?

Can hot loading at your base adversely affect personnel in another loading pit or any aircraft parking areas? If so, can these effects be mitigated to an acceptable level?


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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