Neptune gains approval to bring on a second jet-powered BAe-146 air tanker

Tanker 41
Tanker 41
File photo of Tanker 41 at Missoula, August 11, 2012. Wildfire Today photo.

Neptune Aviation expected to have its second jet-powered air tanker, another BAe-146, in the air fighting fires by the first part of August, but Coulson Aviation and 10 Tanker Air Carrier protested the next generation air tanker contracts the U.S. Forest Service awarded to Neptune, Minden Air, and two other Western companies. We wrote more about the protest on August 7.

It was generally recognized that the USFS had two choices: say damn the torpedoes and bring on the additional BAe-146s anyway under the new next generation contract, or wait until the contract protest is adjudicated, which would take months. But, they selected a third option, adding the second BAe-146 onto Neptune’s existing P2V air tanker contract as “additional equipment”, which is the method used for bringing on their first BAe-146, Tanker 40, in 2011. Tanker 40 is still working under an additional equipment clause.

Minden has been doing their own conversion of a BAe-146 for a couple of years, but the Missoulian reports that it is still not ready for prime time. Their next-generation contract, under protest as stated before, expected it to be available, like Neptune’s, in August.

Since Minden’s Tanker 55 crash-landed June 3 with landing gear that failed to fully extend, rather than committing resources to repairing the 50+ year old P2V warbird, they have been working on converting the BAe-146.

Neptune’s Tanker 41 will be on contract as additional equipment from September 1 until November 9, 2012, and perhaps longer if needed.

The company is leasing Tanker 40, and possibly Tanker 41 also, from Tronos Aviation, a company that did the conversion, based on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Thanks go out to Al, Dick, and Kelly 

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

16 thoughts on “Neptune gains approval to bring on a second jet-powered BAe-146 air tanker”

  1. The S-3 Viking could show up in the mix too.
    The surprise is that Dash8Q400 have been totally forgotten. Turboprop, 2000 gallons Rads…

    1. Q400 proposal was submitted by one of the 4 companies awarded nextgen contracts. It was obviously not selected. Too bad. Too expensive?

  2. Can’t wait to see how they work. Bit skeptical of a Pressurized system but we will see…
    Probably the best pure jet s far as drop speeds…
    Agree about the Dash 8-what happened? Problem with
    the S-3 I have heard is it FOD (foreign object damage)
    tendency due to its low clearance…

    1. S-3 would have to operate from a reasonably clean base. It has high bypass ratio engines [most of the air bypasses the combustion section] thus reducing the FOD problem. CALFIRE looked at the S-3 as a potential replacement for their converted S-2’s. Not cost effective yet.

      From past experience, I would say that the biggest thing to fix in the S-3 would be the brakes. They would have to be improved in order to get reasonable balanced field length specs for takeoff with a full load.

  3. The two Canadian Convair 580’s are also in Billings. I think 43 left BIL yesterday for parts unknown.

  4. As of noon Sunday Tanker 40 is sitting at the Billings Interagency Tanker Base.
    Dont know where the Convair’s and Tanker 41 went?

    Sorry no photos.

    The Miles City Smokejumper Spike Base jumped out last night.

  5. Q400

    Not anymore expensive than any other ship being used

    But leave that to those “contracting experts.”

    They know best what is good for this country…hmmmmmm

    1. It’s a lot more $$$$$. Otherwise you would have seen a contract offered up on the last go around.
      Obsolete -146 and rj-85 are much less to acquire than in-service Q400s.

  6. tanker 41 was out in so cal to day on a fire in the devore area. kinda funny looking.. but im use to the P3’s P2V’s and cal fire’s S2’s.. but hey welcome all the new toys.. thanks for playing.

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