US Forest Service Creates Google Earth Air Traffic Control

Forest Firefighting AircraftThe firefighting branch of the US Forest Service is now using Google Earth to improve situational awareness when they have aircraft deployed in firefighting operations in remote forests. According to Government Computer News:

Linda Naill, an aircraft dispatcher at the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center in Minden, Nev., said she mostly uses the Google version in her job managing up to 20 aircraft at a time from the facility, which oversees 11.5 million acres.

“The neat thing about Google Earth is they’re three-dimensional,” Naill said. “When I put a [temporary flight restriction] in place, I can really see if I’m impacting someone, and if someone violates it, we can easily figure that out.”

There is no doubt Google Earth would prove very useful in this situation. GE’s intuitive interface, 3D terrain, satellite/aerial photography and ability to use the network link to bring in real-time data would make it an excellent visualization tool. The Forest Service is conducting a trial to track other assets, such as ground equipment – even individual firefighters – and expects to begin implementation next year. The group responsible for deploying the tools are now working with NOAA who uses it for tracking animal-survey aircraft and Antarctica-bound ships. Other agencies that rely heavily on high-value mobile assets and first responders also are possible users of the system. via AvWeb

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Jason Rubenstein says:

    I am an Airspace Manager at Columbus AFB. This looks like very helpful software. How can I access these features on Google Earth?

  2. Amimer Farid says:

    I am an air traffic controller in Algerian ACC, sure this facility will not cover very large places,i want to have an idea about the surface that could be covered and even the cost of the ground equipement and also the delay time to get the respond from sattelite via the net because it’s very helpfull facility in some rarely happend situation but it coiuld be helpfull.

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