Those of you who followed the March wildfire outbreaks in Colorado and the Plains probably know that the USFS activated three of Neptune Aviations BAe-146 air tankers (tankers 02, 03, and 12), Bill wrote about this in a March 11th article on Fire Aviation.
Bill Gabbert talks about Tanker Operators plans to convert more aircraft to tanker configuration. His article on March 30th is a good read about Neptune’s BAe-146 and its sister Avro RJ85 (Conair/Aeroflite). He discusses Neptune's and Conair/Aeroflite’s plans to convert aircraft to firefighting configuration and contracts. Note that he says that Neptune will have one BAe-146 on contract with CAL FIRE this year.
Gabbert continues his good reporting in an April 10th Fire Aviation article where he reports on Coulson’s third tanker, T-133 that was nearing completion as he wrote the article. The is Coulson's second L-382G, the 3822G is the civilian version of the military C-130. He also provides on update on Airspray’s conversion of their first BAe-146 and their plans for more conversions.
Large Air Tanker Contracts (see Bill Gabbert's March 10th Fire Aviation article (with updates)
Bill writes about large tankers on exclusive use contract:
- 10 Tanker: two DC-10s
- Aero Air LLC: two MD-87s (see Bills article for an update on the MD-7s and the plans of Aero Air to have more MD-87s available later this year hopefully for a CWN contract.
- Aero Flite Inc: four RJ 85s
- Coulson Aircrane one C-130Q
- Neptune Aviation: four P2-Vs and seven BAe-146’s
And tankers on call when needed contracts:
- 10 Tanker: 1 DC-10
- Aero Flite: (3 Avro RJ 85’s)
- Coulson (1 L-382g)
See Gabbert's March 10th article for a complete list by contractor, tanker number and tail number. Bill also has a discussion about the transfer of seven HC-130H aircraft from the US Coast Guard to the USFS and the conversion. One of the HC-130H (T-116) with a MAFFS unit will be available in 2017.
Finally Bill Gabbert writes on the reduction of the number of type 1 helicopters on federal contracts in 2017, Columbia Helicopters conversion of two of their CH-47d helicopters to use 2,800 internal tanks and SEAT contracts for 2017.