Air Tankers Used In West Vulnerable to Accidents

A new report says U.S. Forest Service firefighting air tankers still have problems despite some safety strides in the wake of high-profile accidents.

The report by the Agriculture Department's inspector general says the Forest Service has suffered many potentially preventable aviation accidents.

Two contractors died in August 2006, for example, when their 40-year-old Sikorsky helicopter crashed into the Klamath River after part of its tail rotor fell off.

There have been 28 crashes of Forest Service aircraft between 2002 and 2006.

The inspector general recommends better planning and stricter

Forest Service officials are working on a plan to address airworthiness, but resisted recommendations that the Federal Aviation Administration take a bigger role.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-02-15-08 1258EST