National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Operational Requirements

Aircraft and pilots will be given a certificate in accordance with FAA and interagency policy. Interagency certification and FAA registration cards are required to be with the aircraft while on an incident.

Mode C transponders are required for all fire operations except when:

  • Otherwise authorized by the aerial supervisor on scene at the incident.
  • On incidents with no aerial supervision on scene. The UASP must deconflict with other incident and/or non-incident aircraft using the established communications protocols contained in this publication.
  • On incidents with no aircraft on scene. The UASP must coordinate UAS operations with the Incident Commander (IC), or designee, and the appropriate flight following entity for that incident as required by this publication.

The UASP will:

  1. Obtain approval from the IC or designee prior to conducting incident missions.
  2. Obtain one of the following airspace authorizations prior to conducting incident missions:
    1. FAA part 107.
    2. Special Government Interest (SGI) Waiver for flights Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) in a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR).
    3. DOI/FAA Memorandum of Agreement for night flights or flights below 1,200’ Above Ground Level (AGL).
    4. DOI/FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) for Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) flights.
    5. USDA/FAA Memorandum of Agreement for United States Forest Service (USFS) flights.

Note: Flights utilizing an FAA memorandum of agreement or SGI have additional provisions, which must be followed by the UASP.

  1. Conduct aerial ignition operations in accordance with approved aerial firing plans.
  2. File a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) as soon as practical and in accordance with interagency and FAA regulations (typically 24 – 72 hours preflight for planned missions or as soon as practical during initial attack).

Note: A NOTAM is issued by the FAA when a TFR is established.

  1. Confirm airspace deconfliction with dispatch or the TFR-controlling authority, when applicable, prior to conducting incident missions.
  2. Prior to conducting incident missions, obtain clearance for mission flights from aerial supervisors such as Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS), Aerial Supervision Module (ASM), Helicopter Coordinator (HLCO), or Lead Plane.
  3. Coordinate mission flights with participating aircraft when aerial supervision is not on scene.
  4. Make a blind call on both the assigned Victor (AM) and the air-to-ground frequency (FM) when no aircraft are reported to be on scene.
  5. Respond to blind radio calls from incoming aircraft when the UAS is the only aircraft on scene.
  6. Give way to all manned aircraft.
  7. Have the capability to determine operational altitudes based on an altimeter setting.
  8. Monitor AM/FM frequencies.
  9. Ensure that landowner notifications are attempted prior to flights over private land.





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