Landing a seat

Single-engine air tanker (SEAT) pilots are carded, or licensed, by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Aviation Management Directorate (AMD). The department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provides training for SEAT pilots.

SEAT pilot candidates must:
Possess at least a commercial pilot certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Possess at least a second-class medical certificate issued by the FAA (awarded by a physician who has examined the pilot based on criteria required by the FAA).
Complete initial training and be approved for operation under a company’s 14 CFT 137 (Agricultural Aviation Operations) certificate. Meet minimum pilot experience specified in the contract; for example, an individual must have low level flying experience and a minimum of 1,500 flight hours of pilot experience.
Graduate from the National SEAT Pilot Training Course taught by the BLM. Graduate from the SEAT Academy (training course includes academic work as well as flight simulator training).
Complete online training classes designed for SEAT pilots. Pass a pilots evaluation administered by an AMD pilot inspector, including a flight check.
Additional requirements:
New SEAT pilots are initially approved as Level 2, or trainee pilots, limited to operations in specific conditions and requiring additional supervision in certain circumstances. They are upgraded to Level 1 status after meeting specific experience requirements.
For pilots at either level to keep their cards, they must:
Fly at least every 14 days. If they do not drop water or retardant on a fire within 14 days, then the pilot must perform a scenario-based training flight simulating a fire operation.
Annually renew their FAA-required medical certificates. Complete a company’s annual training program. Attend the National SEAT Pilot Training Course every three years. Pass an AMD pilot evaluation; every three years for Level 1 pilot and annually for Level 2 pilots.

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