Air Spray moves into California, will convert BAe-146 into air tanker

Air Spray BAe-146 Credit Air Spray
Air Spray BAe-146 Credit Air Spray
Air Spray’s BAe-146. Credit Air Spray

Air Spray Aviation Services, which operates Lockheed L-188 Electra “Longliner” air tankers and Turbo Commander 690 “Bird Dog” aircraft in Canada, has established a new United States headquarters at Chico, California. They announced yesterday that they have acquired a BAe-146 airliner which they will convert into an air tanker.

Currently Neptune Aviation operates two BAe-146 air tankers which were converted by the Prince Edward Island based Tronos Aviation. Minden Air Corporation has been working on converting a BAe-146 for at least a couple of years but their version has not yet dropped on a fire. Minden has a contract with the US Forest Service to supply two of them, one in 2012 and the second in 2013. Aero Flight has a contract to provide two Avro Rj85s in 2013, an aircraft that is a variant of the BAe-146.

The BAe-146 is considered a “next generation” air tanker by the US Forest Service. It is jet powered, can cruise at 498 mph, and the Tronos version has a maximum capacity of 3,000 gallons of retardant.

Thanks go out to Johnny

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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.

12 thoughts on “Air Spray moves into California, will convert BAe-146 into air tanker”

  1. So what is it that Canadian companies have the ability to do that our own US operators are not able to do? Is it a matter of funding?
    We now have two outfits from “up north” providing services in the US.

  2. Well, from what I heard today, I wouldn’t get to het up
    about the 146… There are some issues coming out.
    Brakes, and Pattern problems…
    Heard that from a couple of different sources….
    We will see..

  3. County 27 fire. Minnesota DNR CL-215s, and Fed 215s as well as local helicopters and National Guard Blackhawks and a Chinook also worked this fire.

    Tgmcoy- It appears the 146 brakes worked fine here in MN. All aircraft have their qwerks and mx issues. With no thrust reversers (to save weight?) the Bae engineers came up with an interesting brake cooling system that works.

    Still waiting for you to explain how the PBY wing is better than the 215s??????

  4. TG McCoy on July 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm said:

    Hated the Town, but Stockton was a great tanker base…. The cat “flew on the wing” and carried a fair
    load for a twin and I don’t think that the Cl-215T and 415′s can’t quite do that….

  5. Hi Bill I had info from someone who is well known in the Tanker industry about the brake issue.
    However I think that any new system needs the kinks worked out. Never real comfortable with the pressurized systems . Look
    at MAAFS.. As for the PBY’s they are considerably larger than the CL215’s They flew on
    a 103 ft wing on less Horsepower. Not saying 215’s
    are bad at all. Just noting the difference in capacity.. The 215
    is faster. In Minnesota they are great. as any scooper..

  6. That’s what I want, a larger plane with less horsepower. Sign me up!

    The CL215 has a max takeoff of 43,500. I believe that’s higher than the PBY.

  7. The CL 215 was designed in the mid-1960s as a replacement for the PBY-5s converted to water bombers by Field Aviation of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Field sold over 30 conversions including PBYs to the Government of Quebec and France, which later became the launch customers for the CL-215. The provinces of Quebec, Newfoundland, and Saskatchwan eventually replaced all their PBYs with CL-215s and 415s. More recently, Alberta and Saskatchewan converted their late model 215s to CL-215Ts with the work performed at Abbotsford, BC by a company owned by Conair and Airflite of the US.

  8. I wish Air Spray all the good luck and success in the world. I’m glad to see them in Chico and hope some dedicated, hard-working folks will be back to work.

  9. Agree with that ,Tankergypsie…
    What I like is US folks being hired…Some of the best in the business were at Aero Union.
    Their tanks are the best…

  10. Well boyz Chico will once again be a happening busy airport again. Finally with the backing of a wonderful company they will do it right and prove the 146 can be very very effective. The ole aero union boys are scattered and it may take some time to get them all back but we will be back soon!

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