Forest Service cancels contract for 6 large air tankers

P-3 Orion-1

P-3 Orion, making a low drop on a fire near Cedar City, Utah, in 2006. From zionhelitack.blogspot.com

The U. S. Forest Service has cancelled their contract for six large air tankers. Due to Aero Union “failing to meet its contractual obligations” their P-3 air tankers are no longer available for wildfires. In April, 2011 the company had eight P-3 air tankers that were grounded for a few days because of “issues found during aircraft inspection on one of the P-3s”. Since then it appears that two of their eight P-3’s were removed from the contract, leaving the six that today’s announcement said are now off contract as well. The air tankers that are now out of service are T-17, T-21, T-22, T-23, T-27 and T-00.

This leaves 11 large air tankers remaining on exclusive use contracts, all P2V’s. With all of the eggs now in the same basket, if a problem is found that grounds all P2V’s, we are down to zero air tankers under federal exclusive use contracts. Contrast that with the 44 that were on contract in 2002. Nine of the eleven remaining P2V’s are operated by Neptune out of Missoula, MT. Minden Air out of Minden, NV has two P2V’s under contract.

The USFS has refused to put the very large air tankers (VLAT) under exclusive use contracts, and only offered call when needed (CWN) contracts, with no minimum hour or day guarantee, for the DC-10’s and the 747, operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier and Evergreen. 10 Tanker reluctantly signed the CWN contract with the USFS, but Evergreen did not. As we wrote only yesterday, both companies have told Wildfire Today that they will have difficulty continuing to operate their very large air tankers if they are only occasionally used on fires. They are large, complex, single-purpose aircraft and can’t be diverted like helicopters can, to other uses such as law enforcement or news. CalFire’s CWN contract for the DC-10’s specifies a 5-day minimum.

To summarize, the USFS now has only 11 large air tankers under exclusive use contracts, 33 fewer than we had in 2002. The two DC-10’s are under a CWN contract.

We have ranted on several occasions about the sad state of the aging air tanker fleet. It has been nine years since two very old military surplus air tankers literally fell apart in mid air in 2002, killing five crew members, prompting the permanent grounding of about 57% of the ancient large air tankers. You would think that the US Forest Service and the other federal land management agencies would have immediately taken steps to reconstitute the large air tanker fleet. Well they did take steps, but not enough to lead to any action other than commissioning study after study. The issue has been studied to death. It is long past time to make a damn decision and do something. SOMETHING!

The last study that was commissioned was due in January, 2011, but the Rand Corporation did not deliver it on time. Now it is expected in August, and we’ll see if it spurs action, or if like the others, it collects dust on a shelf.

Most firefighters, and especially higher level fire managers, are genetically programmed to evaluate facts and to be decisive. This appalling situation leads me to believe that firefighters are not a significant part of this decision making process.

Analysis Paralysis as defined in the  Urban Dictionary:

Analysis Paralysis is the total inability to reach a decision. Found often in the business and corporate setting. Usually a condition caused by nit picking managers and owners. The primary source is management/owner requests for more information, reports, studies, statistics, evaluations, opinion, and research on a subject. All of this requested research and study is accompanied by endless, mindless, discussions in multiple meetings regarding the subject and the compiled information. The end result is no decision is made because the efforts placed to garner information and hold endless meetings and discussions are viewed as progress on the subject matter.

Hey did management ever decide if we were going to get extra donuts on donut day? Are you kidding me? They spent $2,000 on a cost analysis, accounting is still crunching cost figures and they have been discussing it for 9 months. It is in the company’s usual state of total analysis paralysis.

At the Aerial Firefighting Conference held in Washington, DC last May, Frank Gladics, professional staff member with the U.S. Senate energy and natural resources committee, addressed the report that some in the USFS would like to replace the aging fleet of large air tankers with 20 to 30 C-130Js at a cost of $80 to $85 million each. Gladics said funding is not available for such a massive purchase, and…

We need a more diverse fleet. . . . Go back and look at alternate aircraft, including water-scooping aircraft. Our forests, the resources and communities can’t wait another 10 years while you wait for the existing fleet to become inoperable in hopes Congress will be forced to buy you that Ferrari you want.

Here is the complete text of the news release the USFS issued today, July 29:

US Forest Service Cancels Airtanker Contract with Aero Union

California company did not meet agency’s safety standards

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2011–The U.S. Forest Service announced today that it has terminated its contract with Aero Union of Sacramento, Calif., because the company failed to meet its contractual obligations. The company was providing six airtankers under exclusive-use contracts to the Forest Service.

“Our main priority is protecting and saving lives, and we can’t in good conscience maintain an aviation contract where we feel lives may be put at risk due to inadequate safety practices” said Tom Harbour, director of the Forest Service’s Fire and Aviation Management program. “This contract termination notwithstanding, we possess the aircraft support needed for this year’s fire season.”

The Forest Service has access to additional aviation assets to meet operational needs. Two other private companies provide 11 large airtankers under exclusive-use contracts. In addition, there are two very large airtankers available through a “call when needed” contract, as well as eight military firefighting aircraft.

The five-year contract the Forest Service signed with Aero Union in 2008 required participation in a continued airworthiness program, which included a Fatigue and Damage Tolerance Evaluation and structural inspection program. In April 2011, Aero Union informed the Forest Service that the Federal Aviation Administration found the company was not in compliance with its mandated structural inspection program requirements.

More information about the aging air tanker fleet on Wildfire Today:

The Sacramento Bee has an article that includes reactions from the chief executive officer for Aero Union.

 

Thanks go out to Dick and Ken

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

59 thoughts on “Forest Service cancels contract for 6 large air tankers

  1. Rumors are floating around that the USFS is planning on bringing on some of the Conair Aviation’s CV580 airtankers from Canada.

    Could be just a rumor, but rumors are often based in facts. We’ll see.

  2. Did anyone not see this coming? What is the REAL politics behind this? Helicopter are a invaluable resource, however they will NEVER take the place of fixed-wing airtankers when dispatched (without delay) for initial attack. Is the real plan to continue to burn up the country and stimulate the economy?

    • I don’t think politics is behind the decision to suspend Aero Union’s contract. Sounds like Aero Union simply didn’t or couldn’t perform the maintenace required to guarantee the P3’s airworthiness. Hopefully they have the will and resources ($$) to resolve the issues and get their aircraft back into service.

  3. 2 of Conair’s Convair 580s under contract with the State of Alaska and another from Abbotsford will be on their way to Boise Monday.

  4. I am saddened by the events even though it may add to the need for our BE 200 USA program. ( 10 new tankers over the next several years)

    I hate to see the blood, sweat money, hopes and dreams that go into any aviation enterpise end up like this.

    As much as I love classic aircraft, in my view, at some point new ones that are designed for the fire supression or other special missions are worth the high intial costs that can result in longer term low life cycle costs with better safety and effectivnes.

    Dave

    • Even someone looking thru the rosiest of rose-colored glasses cannot seriously expect the US to invest the Billions of $$ needed on new aircraft development strictly for a small number of wildfire air tankers! It ain’t going to happen in the next 2 or 3 decades, so why waste time beating this dead horse?

  5. Dave,
    Are you talking about a plane that has a certain look or color and has a salesmen saying yep we made her just for you or a plane that has a operating envelope for this mission and also a maintenance program that is geared for the mission? Is a BMW a better car than the VW because of the purchase price?
    It does not matter how old it is or how much you paid for it if it is not maintained it should not be in the air. Longer term low cycle costs? Where does that one come from. Can you you point to a business case in aviation where that has worked.

  6. Well, NASA no longer has the Shuttle program. Why couldn’t they come up with some kind of design to help curb this issue. The Large Air Tankers of today were designed in the days before all this computer technology and has worked very well. We have the technology the intelligence and military bone yards filled with aircraft and a NASA program not doing anything anymore. Hmm, go figure it’s not rocket science. Or is it? If a Biplane in 1955 can be designed to make water drops on a shoe string budget, I’m pretty sure we can come up with a fricken airtanker of the future using resources in our own back yard. Let me say it again in laymens terms for you politicians. Forest Service pulls head out of third point of contact= NASA, (not really doing anything at the moment)= design a tanker=use
    some aircraft out of the boneyard= an airtanker??? Or just a bunch of confused politicians..we have the technology and the materials!! And computers!! Immagine the possibilities!!

    • Firefly – not only is NASA not doing anything, they are laying off thousands of “rocket scientists” because they have NO budget.
      The question is not about the technical skill and knowledge to build a new generation of air tankers: it’s about the budget and political will. Right now, the American public (speaking through it’s Congress) is placing higher priority on Iraq and Afghan; paying for Medicare and Social Security; keeping the Bush Tax Cuts; paying for Federal and military retirements; subsidizing the Postal Service; paying Ag Bill costs; and making sure that our beloved “earmarks” are fully funded.
      Most Ameicans could care less if we have a newer air tanker fleet: not right, not wrong, just reality (from my perspective). Even if 1000 homes in SoCal burn down every year, it’s really small potatoes on the bigger National Scene.
      So, we do the best we can with older A/C, pray there are no wrecks, and hope that a window opens some day when we can get newer A/C designed to meet our special needs.
      Reality is a Bitch.

  7. I agree about the budget. I wish they would bring back all the old piston pounders they work well. The DC-7’s over here in Oregon serve us very well. Helitankers are very expensive an hour to operate and maintain. Skycranes alone burn over 500 gallons of fuel an hour. They all have there purpose and place. The S2T’s in California are very impressive to watch on a fire. I’m not sure the cost to do one of those conversions or how many are still left in the bone yard. I guess we will wait and see what the future holds for firefighting aircraft. I feel that the current fleet will continue to serve it’s purpose well. The Neptunes are built like tanks and have many years of life in them if they are maintained well. And from what I have seen they are looking pretty sharp..

    • FireFly1977,

      I believe they (AirCranes) burn 500 pounds per hour of fuel, NOT 500 gallons per hour (big difference).. but your point is well taken.

      On another note, Erickson owns the patent and tooling for the AirCrane (formerly SkyCrane) and produces NEW aircranes each year.

  8. Internationally there appears to be a strong interest in revisiting the use of the Bae 146 by airlines. Supply of “spares” parts are still being produced to support the airline industry. The Bae 146 hopefully will be “carded” this year. Does anyone know why this process is taking so long, other than it is the Federal goverment.

  9. Never having flowen a turbo-prop or jet perhaps an experienced tanker pilot could help me out.
    With airtankers is there an advantage to using a turbo-prop or stright jet-turbine engines.

    With big piston radial engines I understand they were designed for high octane, 110, 120 or more fuel and that fuel is now very hard to get so the engines have to be de-rated on power output. This in-turn effects the load the aircraft can carry. Is this correct?

    Thanks.

  10. First off this is purely politics. Their is nothing wrong with our aircraft. If they want an upgraded fleet than congress needs to give us access to newer P3’s to do just that but they wont. @Bmorgan: the great advantage of the P3 is that we can use the props for a great amount of drag to get all the way down steep canyons and get back out easy. 80% of a P3’s wing has a propeller in front of it which translates to instant lift when we push the power up.

  11. Conair’s 3 convair 580s arrived in Boise this afternoon.

    Tankers 442, 455, and 452.

  12. Some folks are “shooting off the hip” Example 1)AirCranes burn OVER 500 GALLONS of jet fuel (kerosine) per hour when being worked. 2)This is the “slowest” fire season in decades in California. The State’s S2T are averaging over 20 911 fire calls per day. 3)Big radial engines like high octane gas, 115/145 the best. It is not available? Although aviation gas today has a lower octane rating,100LL, contract piston air tanker can still SAFELY meet contract requirements with little or no change in aircraft performance 4)It appears that the “scale” of cost per acre to extinguish is higher than in the
    past fire seasons. Reduction of engine crew staffing and immediate need DC-10’s are probably now showing up in dollars?

  13. This is coming from just a civilian with a heavy interest in aviation but especially in Tankers.
    But has anybody thought of going through say Victorville, CA and Abilene TX and look at Regional Airliners instead of 747’s and DC-10’s. Down in Abilene there is a good 100 plus Saab 340 commuter planes that were retired by American Eagle when they went Jet those 340’s are just baking in the Texas sun. {there is at least a good number of planes right with half going to the active fleet and half going for spare parts}.
    It also boggles my mind that the French have a great idea by using Dash 8 Q-400’s as tankers, but we haven’t.
    The Q-400’s from what I read equal the same capacity as current medium and light heavy tankers, but also have more advanced cockpits, as well as short field capability.
    If worse comes to worse, there are probably a few hundred earlier model Dash 8’s floating around out there that can be converted to be medium tankers, and have the short field advantage that jets and even the Q-400 lack especially on hot days say at Grand Junction or Jeffco tanker bases in Colorado.
    My question is has ANY US airtanker company looked into the Dash 8’s as a replacement for their fleets?

    • The Dash 8’s are REALLY expensive, even the used ones. Aero Union is actually the company who tanked those aircraft for the French so it’s no doubt that we have looked at them. As far as the Sabbs Go in Abiline they wouldn’t haul all that much retardant. Maybe 1200 gallons which we all ready have the S2’s for. But you are correct in that the we do need more medium to heavy initial attack platforms.
      Their are newer C model P3’s sitting arond with less than half their life used right now that we can’t have access to yet. That would be a big game changer and give us another 20+ years of a well proven platform.

      • Okay, California has the S-2’s which would equal a Saab 340 in payload, but what about the rest of the United States? that’s what I was purposing using Saab’s as the Medium tanker used by the USFS contractors. Also judging by going to Victorville and Mojave, there could be a new class of VLAT’s waiting, such as CRJ regional jets and 737’s and a few 727’s. If the contractors can modify those planes it could ease the burden, but I guess it all comes down to dollars and common sense.
        Also, I know there are some people who say we should let the military handle the tankers, to me that is a bad idea. We only have maybe I think three squadrons of MAFFS C-130’s in the USAF inventory, if a fire season gets bad and taxes them or if they are called overseas we back to square one.

      • Ain’t there P-3As in Davis Monthan? They’ve been mothballed early, as the Navy wanted heavier ships and the P-3Bs entered service before the As “normal” wearing out. I heard that some As still have 5.000 flight hours ahead. The Customs folks did this long time ago (15? 20 years?), if I’m not mistaken.
        Being AUC a Lockheed-Martin certified center, I wonder how easy it would be to bring some old but “like new” of those birds to flight condition?
        BTW, being AUC a LM certified, how come the FS dare to raise maintenance issues…

      • Conair developed and tanked the Q400 for France and also built and still support the turbo Fire Cats. The French, Spanish and Aussies all work with Conair. Conair is also working on the 146 platform with the variable flow tanks, not the pressurized that Neptune has been trying. Pressurized delivery is not as effective and have less options building line. The US should look north to the real experts and join in the development of the next generation tanker.

        • Well my little maple leaf friend you might want to think aboot what you say A, because as I remember that tank thats on your cute little dash 8 shhhh400 was manufactured in Chico California, as were the majority of your 580’s that I personally tanked and converted. I’m sure conair basically took the design that AERO UNION did and reversed chinesse engineered them to call them there own. Also your little fleet of pleasure crafts are in the same boat as everyone elses old and worn out. You take care now my little candian friend. Experts come on!

          • Yes Richard, You did build those tanks, great design. I said we developed the q400 platform and tanked them. I didnt say we built them. Yes they were built by Aero Union. You are right we all have aging fleets. The cv580 still has alot of life in her though. It’s to bad, we almost bought aero union 2 years ago but some bleeding heart down there didnt want Canadians to own and operate in the US. Its to bad….with all the combined experience and people that would have been an incredible merger and I would bet Aero Union would still be there with the next gen on the way soon. Stay tuned, there are some pretty interesting things being developed right now up here for the next gen heavies. I know Neptune is using a Canadian company right now for the 146 platform. Dont worry, we’ll be there next year too to save your forests and property untill your government gets its shit together. Remember Richard take a look at the last 100 years….we always back you guys up Ehh!
            Cheers,
            Your Maple leaf eating, beaver hugging cousin!

          • That’s right…you back us up with fires and we defend North America. You provide oil and tasty Tim Horton’s coffee and we back substandard mortgage loans. You build great bush planes and water bombers, and we build big airliners and warplanes. You have kokanee, molson, and the Sunshine girl and we have delicious craft beers and Nancy Pelosi. We are all in this together friends and the cross border bashing is a waste of time. We appreciate the help from Conair..send more please. You fellas up north live in a land where your Government values a modern fleet of firefighting aircraft.

          • Hey Hugh, I think Richard and I are just having a little fun, sarcasim included. The writin word can sometimes be taken out of context. No boarder bashing here and I appoligoze if I sounded out of line or arogant. Just haveing a little fun. I truley have the up most respect for all of you down there and hope we all continue to work together . I hope you guystake all the resourses available up north. It is sad to hear about the devistation in Texas. It is great that our agencies work together and support each other the way they are. Together we have the strongest airial resources in the world. I’m sure what ever happens with your governments plans, you guys will come up with some great modern tanker, you guys always seem to rebound some how to make solution big and better.
            P.S. Oh those crafted beers…..the best. Oregon Rouge Ale!

          • buy aero union? conair can pay $50 million + for just the P3s and then the hanger, tools,parts,copyrights etc?.I know of a company that could buy conair and its a little private ownership!

  14. The Ch-54 really does burn 500 gallons/hour, one of the advantages to the heavy air tankers is they can move longer distances to cover multiple missions and provide coverage where there are no water sources or when the water sources are inadequate. These aircraft were carded this spring as airworthy and now they are being withdrawn, WHY?

    • Exactly… The forest service never presented us with anything saying we weren’t compliant and just carded one of our aircraft six weeks ago. So how is it that all of the sudden they are not airworthy? Where did they get this information exactly? Does anyone else smell something funny going on or is it just me (with out a job)?

  15. Oh, and the C-130 Maffs units are not at all effective, anyone on the ground can tell you that, they do not produce a high enough coverage level during a drop and so we are putting aircrews at risk to deliver a load of retardant that is not effective!

    • Again you are spot on my friend. Their coverage lever “8” is the same as a P3’s level “3” which in anything but grass is useless. It is litteraly throwing money at a fire. It takes a support C-130 or two to fly parts, people, compressors around in order to support the MAFFS systems. And they bring some 20 people per aircraft just to support them. Now when we need the help we need the help but for the cost to the tax payer it’s insane to have them be the primary resource for the country. We would be better off wheeling pallets of $100 bills out the back on the fire than dumping retardant. This isn’t a knock to the C-130 Guys at all as I’ve seen them get down and dirty like we do but rather the system that doesn’t work all that well and the cost to the tax payer. Doesn’t make sense…

  16. The heart of the issue I have placed study in lies within the USFS. A knee jerk reaction in 2002, after 2 incidents we all know of very well, collapsed the use of LAT’s. One company’s neglect to perform proper maintenance on aging acft, put the rest of the C-130 and PB4Y users out of the firefighting business. Was this possibly due to constant low fees to “chop” budgets? The USFS never did pay well to American operators. I should have data soon on what they pay Canadians to provide the same type of aerial firefighting coverage…

    • Aero Union tanked the French Q400s?????

      From the Cascade Aerospace website:

      THE CASCADE-BUILT Q400-MR AIRTANKER IS THE MOST
      ADVANCED AIRTANKER AVAILABLE TO AIRTANKER OPERATORS
      TODAY – AND IS IDEALLY SUITED TO THE ROLE BECAUSE OF ITS
      CAPACITY, SPEED, PERFORMANCE AND SAFETY.

      • We built the actual tank systems for the aircraft. Cascade did everything else to get the tanks on and certified.

      • It does not fit the bill bro, it needs a larger capacity and a coast to coast range with no retardent on board and a more reasonable price tag. Airlines are still ordering that plane, and replacing there jets with it. If you were lucky to find one sitting idle on a ramp preserved with no recent inspections and a low airframe time i’m sure you would still be spending in excess of 10 mil just for the airframe no motors.

  17. May be here is a soultion to the
    Fed’s fixed-wing air program (or lack of) Let’s go back to the early 60’s and do exactly what the helicopter folk are doing today. Call-When-Needed. Air tankers and pilots will still require “carding”. Air tanker operators will be a private vendor at hire and have no other obligation to the user other than to perform or get kicked-off the fire. Eliminate the Fed’s 3000 gallon minimum capacity. Bring back the DC-4, 6%7’s, other companies P2V’s. Reduce the retardant load capacity for these aircraft i.e DC-4& P2V 1800 gallons, 6’s&7’s 2200 gallons Let the FAA decide when an aircraft is airworthy. Each fire season we crash helicopters and kill people, doesn’t seem to slow down the helicopter “beat”. If I owned a race track and a driver is killed does that hold me responsible? It is all RISKY BUSINESS!

  18. There is a stark reality to this issue. The Fed’s want out of the fixed wing business. Helicopters, helicopters and more helicopters. They are easy to order and track and when released from an incident just go home. None of those fancy jet and turbine airplances darting around all over the West; it is driving us (Fed’s) crazy. A few piston-pounder tankers (may) be kept around to keep the politian and public off our back. How many times have we hear “airplanes don’t put out fires!” Probably not if you wait 24 hours to make a decision to send them.

    • If you took a look how the Canadians fight and contain fires I think you would have a different opinion. The usfs is getting first hand lessons from Conair crews right now! Containment is key, spitting on fires with rotary wing is for mop up after the tankers build there lines and ground crews hold them. The us has to learn that they are not the best at everything. Learn from your cousins up north, we are always glad to help.

      • The US and Canada use most of the same tactics. Conairs crews are fighting fire the way their customer asks them too just like Airspray and Coulson would. Just like every operator dose. Fixed and rotor. I figure you don’t work for Conair from your other posts, and if you do talk to guys there you would know how proud and greatfull they are to help our neighbours. Your veiw on the L-188 is so far out to lunch! Airspray has had great success with it, why wouldnt another company? and the 146? I dont think they even have one. Variable Flow Tank? it has mid fuselage main gear. You should’nt spout off third hand talk when obviously you have no real clue or genuine info. Retag yourself Xtankermec, because if you were you wouldn’t be talking like that. To the guys taking care of those fires down south; good luck, be safe. Hope they are all out soon?

  19. Oh my… I almost fell out of my chair laughing at the comments between TankerMech and Richard. It’s great to see two friends taking jabbs at each other, but keeping a sense of humor and humility.

  20. Johnny the P2Vs are already down loaded from 2700 gallons to 2082. The P3s were down loaded from 3000 gallons to 2550. They won’t bring back the DC-4s 6s or 7s because they can not show every flight hour from when they rolled out of the Dougles plant. At least that is what they have told me at work when we were talking about them.
    The Dash 8s will not work because of the T tail on the aircraft. You could get into a super stall with a T tail aircraft which is loosing lift on the wing and the horizontal stabilizer. The AU P-3s are good with no maintenance issues. I truly believe the whole AU thing was because the fools running the company ran AU into the ground. I also know for a fact that there are 65 ex Navy P-3Cs sitting down at davis mothen in FS control all they have to do is give them to the contractors. With all that said I don’t think that the FS really cares that much about having contractors operate the Fixed wing. They want DOD owned and operated C-130Js with MAFFS and we all know they don’t work really well. I really hope they do get the 146s operational soon or we may not have any Large Air Tankers next season. I’ll get off my soap box now. Just my 2 cents on this matter.

  21. Matt-
    With regards to your .02. ……
    What is a “super stall”? Is that something Bombardier aircraft (like the super scooper & dash 8 err…..Q400) are prone too?

    So the Douglas logbooks were the issue with the USFS? Or was it too expensive to get the Boeing engineers to deem the -4s, -6s, and -7s worthy? Lockheed put a time limit on the P-2s and P-3s. Built in protection for the customer.

    P-3s are all good with no MX issues????? Must be the best airplane ever designed?

    A fair bit of half cocked truths here…….almost seems like FOX news.

    • Hey Hugh, If you would have walked into the Aero Union hanger in Chico prior to the move to Sacremento, and then into a p3 navy depo facility you would have seen little difference. The same goes for the facility that started to maintain aero union’s aircraft in nova scotia. All of the work done on those aircraft mirrored the navys maintenace programs and were followed! This cap program that everybody got all flipped out over is something that goes over the norm for the typical maintenace preformed on those planes. Infact the majority of the cap program was already cover by the inplace depo cycles for the p3 that have been done since they arrived at aero union. But some other items were added to the cap, put inplace and the new person that was in charge either ignored or did not inform the customer that he was deviating from it, in my opinion. So you may ask yourself well that stuff should have been taken care of, and from a customers stand i agree with that. But if the old owner was still around these items would have been removed from the cap and this issue resolved with the customer. As for those seven planes sitting in Sac, I’d put my kids on all of them for a rollercoaster ride in a hurricane. There is nothing wrong them, other than the guy that ran that place, into the ground. As for the “Deep Stall” or as you guys put it super duper stall, its a inheirent trait with all T-tail aircraft, so the 146 is screwed I guess, good luck with that one 146 guys.

  22. Richard-
    AU obviously did an excellent job of keeping the P-3s going. Too bad the company structure and overhaul capabilities went the way it did. Just commenting that all aircraft have maintenance issues. Contracts and budgets need to support the intensive inspections and maintenance they require.

    Keith-

    You mean Convairs and Electras are not modern?

    • If you want to see a plane in worse shape than any P3 take a look at any electra still flying, and if you see one over head run in the opposite direction. As for the convair not a bad platform but again its old and has only two motors with a limited range, as will the 146 with 3000 gallons on board. At least it has four engines. Speaking of modernizing the tanker industry why is conair gathering up and tanking beat up electras? The reason because they cant get there hands on P3’s. The worlds finnest aerial fire fighting tool hands down. Also with the fires in texas chewing up homes and anything else in its path why arent we seeing any conair 580’s down there to help, they seem to like boise and redmond. Whats up with that? One last thing for my little buddy from the north….BOSTON the greatest team ever.

      • The only reason we bought to L-188s was because it was a customer request…contract bidding time! Trust me it was a reluctant decision, but it won a 10 year contract. Thats alot of money not to mention job security. Trust me we hope TC and the FAA beer can them. It also gave us the opportunity to develope a 3300 us gal tank and FRDS that is better than anything out there right now. I think the 580 is just as good if not better than the P3. No speed restrictions, can haul basically the same amount of mud since the P3s had to be downloaded, way less fuel consumption and as far as endurance gos what the convair lacks in that aspect it makes up for in everything else including maintenance. They are sitting in Boise and Redmond because thats where your fire fighting experts in the USFS have put them. If you could track them on Latitude you’d see they are flying in Oregon, Idaho,Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Arizona, Washington.
        Bye the way Rich, Ya the Bruins are awsome. Why? 18 players, over half their team are from where? Canada Eh! You guys stick to hitting your little ball with your tree branchs.

  23. Hey Richard and Hugh,
    Do the agencies down there use At802 Firebosses? It sounds like Helicopters are used alot. They must have similar capacities and if you get a group of them it is a simialar payload to a heavy. Would seem pretty cost effective at a couple million each and if positioned in the right places where needed. Texas designed and built.

    • I pretty sure they are not utilized down here. The main reason is speed and the fact that they need a sutible place to get water. Up in your area those places are more abuntant. Also the skycrane can suck up 2 to 3 thousand gallons depending on there tank capacity, so im assuming you would need three 802’s to match it give or take. Then theres the issue with a skycrane can get its water from a small pond or river hopefully located near the incident, where a 802 possibly has to fly a considerable distance. It all comes down to time, the amount of suppressents delivered and of course cost, where a flock of 802’s i’d guess is cheaper, but not sure. I also liked the boston jab and the tree one, but i have to ask is “ehh” French for A?

  24. No firebosses in TX that I know of. They could certainly work as there are a lot of lakes. Their price is an attractive incentive and sparking the local economy is always a plus. How is a fireboss in rough water and crosswinds? With the 35-40 knot winds blowing last weekend I doubt you would have seen them scooping water. I’ve listened to several Conair birdog pilots sing the praise of the Fireboss. Must work or they wouldn’t be backing the product. But to say that a fireboss is hands down better than another aircraft sounds like you are trying to sell a Fireboss. Have worked alongside the FB. Great gate system for grass fires. Nice long line and the ability to do short spurts for small targets. The ability to jettison a load on the go is a plus too…..i guess……if the pilot has misjudged their reload lake. Turbine power is optimum……would prefer 2 engines…..but it costs more. Fatigue is also an important factor. Some might argue that a 2 person crew is safer with respect to the human factors involved. The FB is another tool for the ICs to use, and there is no reason it could not be used in TX right now. I am sure the guys on the ground would be happy to see just about anything flying overhead right now.

  25. Not sure about the rough water scoops or crosswinds. I havnt worked on them very much. I actually don’t work on tankers anymore, left that awhile ago. To much time away from home. I still talk to the guys though. That’s where any of my info comes from. When I refer to ” we” in previous threads I mean us in Canada. I just have second or third hand knowledge now… My bad! Sorry if misleading. I know one province up here who use the 802s and love them. They just seem to be placed in strategic areas when requried, no super long dispatches I think. I was just wondering because I think there factory is in Olney, Texas. Kinda ironic. Ehh is just Canadian, I think it just came from the far eastcoasters. In all seriousness you guys know what you’re doin down there! Hope those P3s get up and running again. I also talked to some friends at airspray, they are Chopin at the bit to come and help.

    • Fire bosses are not widely used (in the US) because the concept of using fixed wing to drop water is foreign south of the 49th. They will make it down eventually. Would be great to see Airspray down here too, albeit a bit ironic to have AUs P-3s shutdown while using ASs Electras. With all the lakes it would be even better to have Ontario and Quebec’s fleets of 415s here. All it takes is money and an open mind on tactics. Bring on the iron…..the more the merrier.

  26. I helped modify 5 of the P-3’s in 1990. That was the best place I ever worked! Its a dang shame it was run into the ground. Mr. Newton must have rolled over in his grave. Still have Pictures of T-27 on its first flight.

  27. Hey guys , even with all the airtankers used in the last 60 years what about the fire retardant? I used to load P2Vs when I was a kid 40 years ago and it was good old slurry that stuck like baby s-it to a blanket.It could be 11.5 lbs a gallon density.I had the opportunity to fly the douglas A-26 invader for 20 years and in the old days we had the good old heavy fire retardant.Even windy days and high drops it hit the ground.I am seeing drops from airtankers and it blows away in the wind unless you risk your life and drop to low. History shows the USFS developed the first airtankers for firefighting.Lets give credit where credit is due.The enviroment in and around a forest fire can be unfriendly.Its a rough ride and puts any airframe to its maximum limits.I think these aircraft should be inspected more often because of the stress put on them.We all saw the end result of a stress to a complete failure of an airframe.Kudos to any company doing quality assurance inspections and starting with a completely rebuilt airframe and components.The Aero union P3s belong back in the air after the proper inspections.Canada has a regulation about x military aircraft getting approval to fly in a civilian use and although canada has the P3 – aurora it is not able to be certified for civilian use.Thats why its electra as it was a civilian use aircraft.Fly safe boys

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