I’m not sure how we missed this before, but on October 28, 2009 the BAe-146-200 that is being converted to an air tanker by Tronos made its first drop over Prince Edward Island in Canada. According to the company “The aircraft performed flawlessly as did the tank and delivery system.”
Here are some stats about the aircraft, taken from the Tronos web site:
- Water / retardant capacity: 3,000 USG
- Range: 2,700km / 1,200 nm
- Turn-around time: 8 minutes
- Typical drop speed / altitude: 120 knots (138 mph) @ 150 feet (200km/h (124 mph) @ 46 meters)
- Cruise speed: 330 knots (600 km/h) (380 mph)
- Fast fill / Variable flow delivery system
- Short take-off length and steep field approach
- Air-brake / flap combination: improves low speed maneouvrability
The aircraft Tronos is converting is number N608AW, serial number E2049, manufactured in 1986.
In a comment, Ken mentioned the fact that Minden Air, at Minden, Nevada, is also converting a BAe 146-200 into an air tanker. In 2004 and 2005 Minden and Tronos were talking about working together to convert a BAe-146-200 into an air tanker, but that project fizzled out. Minden acquired one, number N606AW, serial number 2033, but now it has been turned into scrap at Minden.
The company did some low-level flight testing in 2004 with a BAe 146-200, flying a total of nine sorties with the aircraft configured much like an air tanker.
But in January, 2009 Minden acquired another BAe-146-200, number N446MA, serial number E2111, manufactured in 1989. Minden intends to have this aircraft converted into an air tanker for the 2010 fire season. Some of the approvals they will have to get include a Supplemental Type Certificate from the FAA, and certification from the Interagency Air Tanker Board. BAE Systems, the manufacturer of the aircraft, is consulting with Minden, and will stand by any design and technical contributions they are asked to make. BAE Systems hopes the conversion will be successful so that a new market for their aircraft can be created.
Here are a couple of interesting facts about the BAe-146.
- In spite of the fact that it has four turbofan engines, it is one of the quietest jet airliners, producing only 80 decibels when taking off. This meant that in the 1980’s and 1990’s, before other manufacturers reduced the noise from their aircraft, the BAe-146 could land and takeoff at noise-restricted airports when others could not, or at certain times, such as late at night, when others couldn’t.
- Some of the earliest BAe-146’s had problems with the engines, resulting in the joke that BAe stood for “Bring Another engine”.