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U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Aviation Safety Planning

Failing to plan is planning to fail

IMPORTANT: see references for daily and long-range
planning resources including airspace, NOTAMs, weather, etc.

A good plan describes the program or project and provides guidance to everyone involved in the mission. This site is not intended as an all-inclusive source for required documentation but does fulfill much of FHP and State needs, including a planning library with State and Federal examples. Additional references and documents for long-range planning and daily operations are at the bottom including federal aviation and acquisition regulations, airspace coordination, NOTAMs, weather, airport and other helpful information.

Plans exist at various levels for specific purposes: e.g. an FAA flight plan is optional under domestic VFR (but highly recommended) and required under IFR; Forest Service missions require either a Forest Service Flight Plan or Resource Order and flight following (see pages 50-55 in Chapter 20, MOB Guide), including special missions such as those conducted by FHP. Regional and State aviation plans (variously named Aviation Operations and Accident Prevention Plan, Air Operations Guide, etc.) and Project Aviation Safety Plans describe program or mission, specifics of flight following, mishap response procedures, etc.

Planning Documents

Planning documents are listed more or less in hierarchical order
from National to operational, please use as a template or checklist:


FOREST HEALTH PROTECTION AVIATION OPERATIONS AND ACCIDENT PREVENTION PLAN – (example) from the Rocky Mountain Region & Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, FHP aviation safety plans such as this tier to USFS Regional Aviation Management Plan; independent are State Forest Health Aviation Management and Safety Plans (see planning library).

INTERAGENCY AVIATION MISHAP RESPONSE GUIDE AND CHECKLIST (IAMRG) Opens in new window/tab – (blank) tailor for your unit and have in place for contacts to be made based on aircraft status (overdue, missing, suspected/known accident).

PROJECT AVIATION SAFETY PLAN (PASP) – (blank) includes risk assessment worksheet and planning/briefing checklist required prior to commencing non-emergency Forest Service projects involving aircraft; some Region/Area FHP aviation plans adequately address PASP required elements, consult your Region/Area Unit Aviation Officer (UAO) and Regional Aviation Safety Manager for specific requirements approvals (see PASP examples in planning library).

SECURITY PLAN – location-driven, addressing field or airport security and required for Forest Service operations; know standards, responsibilities and procedures for your area; know current threat level and associated security measures, contact your Forest Service Site Manager/Site Security Officer or UAO for more information; REPORT all known or suspicious threats immediately!

COMMUNICATIONS PLAN – (example) list frequencies to be used and chart project communications.

PREPLANNING CHECKLIST – (blank) use to insure everything is ready to go and chart project organization.

AIR OPERATIONS/SAFETY “GO/NO GO” CHECKLIST – (blank) generic and emphasizes agency project helicopter operations, may be modified to be useful for fixed wing; add “make or break” items for your project (such as deconflicting airspace if necessary); omit items by documenting mitigation measures.

AERIAL APPLICATION CONTRACT (sample template) – for use as a guideline in preparing state aerial application contracts and approval of contract aircraft and pilots; updated August 11, 2015 by the Aerial Application Safety Council; users should add any agency specific requirements and ensure review by that agency's contracting officer. The form attachments are also available as separate files: Attachment 1. SPRAY AIRCRAFT PILOT APPROVAL FORM and Attachment 2. AIRCRAFT DESCRIPTION FORM.

Planning Library – (soon to be updated)

FHP Aviation Operations Plan

Mission Aviation Safety Plan (MASP)

Flight Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT)

Additional State and Federal Planning Tools and Templates

Additional References

National Weather Service Opens in new window/tab

Interagency Airspace Coordination – FTAs, TFRs, more…

Pilot Web Opens in new window/tab

Aviation Business System Opens in new window/tab

AP/1B Chart Ordering Information – IAC Guide (Appendix C)

Day Trip Authorization FS5700-12

Intercept Procedures

The FAA National Aeronautical Information Management Enterprise System provides graphic TFRs, weather, NOTAMs - always check for most current: Flight Service Station 1-800-WX-BRIEF (1-800-992-7433)

5716.5 - Flight Plans and Flight Following Amendment 5700

Amendment 5700

(For further direction, see FSH 5709.16, sec. 33.) File a Forest Service Flight Plan or Resource Order to document flights by aircraft involved in Forest Service operations. In addition, provide for flight following through Forest Service communication facilities or by filing an FAA Flight Plan for all flights except training or test flights conducted locally. Procedures for Forest Service (agency) flight following contained in the geographic area and National Interagency Mobilization Guide must be followed.

Special Mission

Aviation resource mission in direct support of incidents, such as leadplane and aerial supervision module flights, smokejumper/paracargo flights, reconnaissance, infrared, aerial photo/survey, and other missions requiring special training and/or equipment.

Security Plan

SENSITIVE and plan is not provided; see Integrated Physical Security Standards and Procedures Handbook (Official Use Only and unavailable outside of USDA).