TracPlus is an approved tracking company for aerial firefighting operators in the USA. The United States Forest Service (USFS) recently made changes to their reporting requirements, so here is what aerial firefighting operators need to know.

What is AFF and why is it important?

Automated Flight Following (AFF) is an online government application that automatically tracks the location and velocity of specially-equipped aircraft and mobile assets and provides this information in near-real-time to dispatchers, aviation managers, and other authorized users.

Utilizing geolocation and data communications devices installed in government-registered aircraft. AFF tracks position speed, altitude, and heading, and transmits the data via satellite to a ground-based flight-monitoring system. AFF tracks contract aircraft around the globe.

It is a requirement for all aircraft engaging in aerial firefighting to register their tracking devices and aircraft on the AFF portal. Sharing your tracking data to AFF and registering your aircraft enhances situational awareness, reduces radio traffic, improves detection and response to emergencies and reduces workload in aircraft and despatch centers.

How is TracPlus involved?

TracPlus is the tracking provider of choice for many of the leading aerial fire fighting operators around the world and has supported operations on some of the largest wildfires across the USA over the last 10 years. Customers include CalFire, San Diego Gas & Electric, Coulson Aviation and Erickson.

“The live tracking provided by TracPlus helps us to ensure safe distances are achieved between helicopters and drones, while also giving great situational awareness of all operations in the region.” Matthew Orton, SDG&E Aviation Services.

What do you need to do?

If your aircraft is already set up for this, then you don’t need to do anything. However, we do recommend you check any existing aircraft, tracking devices and sharing settings before going on contract. These changes only apply if you are registering new aircraft or have changed tracking devices.

Our Support Team have put together a basic ‘how-to’ on how to ensure you’re prepared for the firefighting season and how to make those changes through TracPlus.

This article was written by Trevor McIntyre from Trac Plus and can be found here. For more information on what to do next and to learn more, check out the TracPlus information here.