NASA and FAA join forces to develop wildland fire management technologies

April 23, 2024

NASA and FAA establish a research team for wildland fire technology

NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have formed a research transition team dedicated to enhancing wildland fire management through advanced technologies.

The team aims to address the increasing frequency and scale of wildland fires as reported by the U.S. Forest Service.

By developing new technologies, they seek to assist emergency responders in preventing, monitoring, and combating these fires more effectively.

The collaboration focuses on improving airspace integration during wildland fire operations.

Traditional aerial firefighting techniques are often hindered by poor visibility, which increases the risk of accidents.

The team’s initiative will explore the use of drones to mitigate these risks, allowing for fire monitoring and suppression in conditions like nighttime or heavy smoke.

Advanced airspace management for safer firefighting operations

The Wildland Fire Airspace Operations research transition team is tasked with creating and testing new concepts for airspace access and traffic management.

This initiative is part of NASA’s Advanced Capabilities for Emergency Response Operations (ACERO) project, which operates out of the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

Drones offer a promising solution to the visibility limitations faced by manned aircraft in firefighting operations.

The research will focus on ensuring that these uncrewed aircraft can operate safely and effectively, maintaining separation from other aircraft and providing operators with critical situational awareness during emergency responses.

ACERO’s role in shaping the future of wildland fire management

Over the next four years, ACERO will develop and test these new technologies.

The project’s goal is not only to improve current operations but also to inform a broader concept of operations for the future of wildland fire management.

These efforts will involve collaboration with other government agencies and aim to integrate the technologies into both commercial and governmental wildland fire operations.

FSJA Comment

The partnership between NASA and the FAA marks a significant step toward modernizing the approach to wildland fire management.

By focusing on the integration of drone technology and improved traffic management, this initiative addresses crucial challenges in emergency response operations.

The anticipated development of these technologies could transform how emergency services respond to wildland fires, making operations safer and more effective.

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