Field Aerospace completed the US Forest Service SD3-60 avionics upgrade on the sixth of 10 aircraft 17 days ahead of schedule back in December, with 100 percent quality compliance, according to the company.
Implementing efficiencies and lessons learned from the previous Sherpa flight deck integrations shaved off 17 days from the planned integration schedule, garnering kudos from the US Forest Service.
The forest service found no quality issues during the acceptance inspection and said they are pleased with the modification. They flew the Sherpa from Oklahoma City to Rapid City, SD, for refueling, then to home base in Missoula, MT, on Dec. 13.
“The US Forest Service team was extremely happy with the quality of the work and early delivery,” said John Taylor, vice president and general manager of Field’s Oklahoma City operations, adding “Field is pleased with the progress we’ve made modifying this important forest service aircraft. We delivered the latest Sherpa in record time, beating our schedule by 17 days.”
Field Aerospace expects the next four Sherpa modernizations to follow the compressed modification schedule as well.
Field Aerospace obtained the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for this avionics upgrade, which modernizes the aging smokejumper’s flight deck and improves its mission capabilities, in September 2018. Field Aerospace developed and integrated the modernized flight deck, conducted FAA-witnessed ground and flight tests, and completed the STC certification. Field’s FAA-authorized Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) issued the STC for the first Sherpa
The next aircraft is currently in work at Field’s Oklahoma City facility. Field Aerospace previously completed five Sherpa upgrades, four as part of the original base contract and one for the current option contract. Three additional aircraft will be modified, for a total of 10 on the base and option contracts.
“The modernization extends the life and improves the operational capabilities of this aging aircraft for future firefighting efforts. The upgrade is a challenging integration of modern digital avionics into an older analog-based aircraft that yields a functionally advanced and aesthetically pleasing cockpit system,” Taylor said.
Field’s modification integrates an intuitive, modernized avionics suite with a Garmin G950 system. The new flight deck includes new features and safety-enhancing capabilities, such as a glass cockpit, weather radar, digital audio system, VHF-FM tactical radio, large-screen Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT), Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out, Traffic Avoidance and Collision System (TCAS), Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), Mode S extended squitter, and Localizer Performance (LPV). The enhanced Sherpa aircraft support wild land fire operations, including smokejumper, passenger, and cargo missions.