...Amid Dwindling Resources

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The air tanker that crashed was one of 10 aircraft the National Interagency Fire Center approved last Monday to return to the firefighting fleet, saying it would monitor them closely for signs of fatigue. The 10 included seven of Aero Union's P-3 Orions. Two fatal crashes in 2002 led to the grounding of large air tankers that year. The NTSB noted in a press release on Thursday that it had issued five recommendations last year to the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior and the FAA as a result of several accidents involving structural failure of firefighting aircraft, while noting that it is unknown at this time if the Chico accident is related to structural failure.