Be-200 air tanker to seek approval from Interagency Air Tanker Board

In light of the P2V air tankers having to undergo FAA-required inspections after a 12-inch crack was found in a wing spar and skin on one of Neptune Aviation’s P2V-7 air tankers, it seems like a good time to look at an alternative air tanker. The Russian-made Beriev Be-200 amphibious air tanker will be tested in about … Continue reading “Be-200 air tanker to seek approval from Interagency Air Tanker Board”

Be-200
The Be-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California, April, 2010. Photo courtesy of Michael Lynn.

In light of the P2V air tankers having to undergo FAA-required inspections after a 12-inch crack was found in a wing spar and skin on one of Neptune Aviation’s P2V-7 air tankers, it seems like a good time to look at an alternative air tanker. The Russian-made Beriev Be-200 amphibious air tanker will be tested in about three months to determine if it meets the criteria established by the Interagency Air Tanker Board (IATB). Certification by the Board is required for any air tanker that is under contract with the U.S. land management agencies. Approval by the Board is not a given; it took a year for the BAe-146 to obtain “interim” approval and then a year later, in December, 2012 the Board will decide if it is fully qualified.

Shortly after the European Aviation Safety Agency, their version of the FAA, issued an approval and Type Certificate for the Be-200 to the Beriev Aircraft Company on September 9, 2010, the Russian Emergencies Ministry signed a $330 million contract to purchase eight of the aircraft configured for wildland firefighting. This made good on a promise Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made during their August, 2010 fire siege to acquire more air tankers, including the Be-200.

David E Baskett
David E. Baskett

Wildfire Today talked with David E. Baskett, president of TTE International Inc., who hopes to acquire a fleet of ten Be-200′s and lease them to air tanker operators in the United States. In April of 2010 Mr. Baskett arranged to have a Be-200 fly into the Santa Maria, California airport where it was on static display and made a demonstration water drop. He returned today from visiting the Beriev offices in Russia and said he expects to receive the first Be-200 as early as the first quarter of 2013, depending on financing. After that he could add up to two to three additional aircraft each year.

In addition to passing the IATB tests, the aircraft will need to obtain from the FAA the same type of certifications it received from the European Aviation Safety Agency. Mr. Baskett said that process is in the works and will be guided by a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Russian governments for cross-certifying aircraft from the two countries.

Check out this very impressive seven-second video of a Be-200 dropping on a fire in Russia.

Here are some of the specifications of the Be-200:

  • Cost: approximately $30-41 million
  • Design: purpose-built air tanker, internal gravity-drop tank, can scoop from lakes or ocean, or load retardant at an airport.
  • Retardant or water capacity: approximately 3,000 US gallons. Class A foam or gel can be mixed into the tank while airborne.
  • Cruising speed: 348 mph
  • Maximum speed: 435 mph
  • Minimum speed: 98 mph
  • Ferry range (one hour reserve) 2,051 miles
  • Engines: two high-mounted turbofan D-436TP, “maritime”, corrosion-resistant.
  • Crew: two

Mr. Baskett will submit a bid or proposal in response to the U.S. Forest Service’s Request for Proposal for what they are calling the “next generation” air tanker. Those proposals are due by February 15 and contracts should be awarded in April. The RFP has provisions for air tankers that are not yet approved by the IATB which will begin service with the USFS in later years. He also said the USFS expects to issue another RFP for scooper air tankers in a few months and his company will participate in that as well. The Be-200 will be the basis for his proposals for both RFPs.

 

Thanks go out to Ken

Russia orders eight Be-200 amphibious jet air tankers

Shortly after the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an approval and Type Certificate for the Be-200 amphibious aircraft to the Beriev Aircraft Company on September 9, the Russian Emergencies Ministry signed a $330 million contract to purchase eight of the aircraft configured for wildland firefighting. This made good on a promise Russian President Dmitry Medvedev … Continue reading “Russia orders eight Be-200 amphibious jet air tankers”

BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California
BE-200 air tanker at Santa Maria, California in April, 2010. Photo courtesy of Michael Lynn.

Shortly after the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an approval and Type Certificate for the Be-200 amphibious aircraft to the Beriev Aircraft Company on September 9, the Russian Emergencies Ministry signed a $330 million contract to purchase eight of the aircraft configured for wildland firefighting. This made good on a promise Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made during their August fire siege to acquire more air tankers, including the Be-200. Medvedev went along as a “co-pilot” on a Be-200 last month and pushed the button to make a drop on one of the fires burning in Russia.

In April a Be-200 visited Santa Maria, California in an effort to sell a few of the air tankers in the United States. At about $41 million each, how many would you like to order?

Here is a video of a demonstration of the Be-200.

The Beriev Aircraft Company was founded in 1934 and has built dozens of models of aircraft, including the Mil Mi-26 helicopter, the largest and most powerful helicopter ever to have gone into production. It can carry 44,000 pounds, equivalent to about 80 troops or 60 litters.


Video of close call in Russian wildfire, plus spectacular footage of Be-200 jet dropping

This CNN video shows a close call when four people in a vehicle find themselves surrounded by a fire in Russia. (Update: Fire Geezer has the long YouTube version of the vehicle close call video.) The CNN video also has some EXCELLENT footage (at 2:05) of the Russian amphibious jet-powered air tanker, the Be-200, dropping … Continue reading “Video of close call in Russian wildfire, plus spectacular footage of Be-200 jet dropping”

This CNN video shows a close call when four people in a vehicle find themselves surrounded by a fire in Russia. (Update: Fire Geezer has the long YouTube version of the vehicle close call video.)

The CNN video also has some EXCELLENT footage (at 2:05) of the Russian amphibious jet-powered air tanker, the Be-200, dropping on some active fire. It is one of the most spectacular videos of a drop that I have ever seen. As we reported on July 30, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called for proposals to be drawn up on the purchase of additional firefighting equipment, including Be-200 aircraft.

Be sure and click on “full screen”, the icon at the lower-right.

Wildfires in Israel force tens of thousands to evacuate

Firefighters have been battling a rash of fires since November 21.

Since Monday November 21 many wildfires have broken out in Israel, forcing 60,000 residents to flee from the coastal city of Haifa as the fire spread into the center of the metropolis.

Normally this time of the year the country would be entering their rainy season but the fires are occurring during a two-month drought. The situation has been worsened this week by strong dry winds making the fires more resistant to control.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s public security minister, told reporters that almost half the fires were the result of arson. The term “pyro-terrorism” has been thrown around loosely in various articles, but that has not been confirmed by an authoritative source.

The fires slowed on Friday enabling some evacuees to return to their homes.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Israeli Air Force is using 10 drones to detect fires and spot suspected arsonists.

The 747 Supertanker has been contracted by the Israeli government and after a 12.5-hour non-stop flight landed in Tel Aviv at about 10:25 a.m. MST on Friday.

Global Supertanker Services sent two complete flight crews with the air tanker, President and CEO Jim Wheeler said. Each crew consists of two pilots and a drop system operator. In addition there were four maintenance and ground personnel, one supervisor, and Bob Soelberg, Program Manager for Global Supertanker, who will liaise with the Israeli government.

747 Supertanker
The 747 Supertanker at its home base in Colorado Springs, May 4, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The 747 can drop retardant, foam, gel, or other fire suppressants.

This is not the first time a Supertanker has mobilized to Israel. In December 2010 the first generation of the aircraft dropped on the Mt. Carmel Fire in which 44 prison guards in a bus were killed after being trapped by the fire. The supertanker was one of 30 firefighting aircraft that were dispatched at that time from countries all over the world, including six Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) air tankers from the U.S. military. The assistance from the MAFFS was approved and arranged late in the incident. Some never took off and others were turned around at a refueling stop in the Azores.

Since the deadly Mt. Carmel fire Israel has substantially beefed up their fire aviation resources and now have 14 Single Engine Air Tankers under contract supplied by Elbit Systems and Chim Nir Flight Services. The SEATs have their place in the firefighter’s tool box, but the 747 carries far more than all of their SEATs combined.

In June Israel loaned three of their SEATs to Cyprus to help suppress large fires near Paphos and Evrychou. Now they are on the receiving end as firefighting aircraft are arriving from the U.S., Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Italy, and Turkey. In addition, Russia sent two water scooping Be-200 air tankers. One can be seen scooping in the video at the top of the page.

In spite of a report in a major east coast newspaper, the U.S. National Interagency Fire Center has not received any orders for firefighting resources. But, according to BLM spokesperson Randall Eardley, there have been some discussions about crew availability. Jessica Gardetto of the BLM said the Pentagon has inquired about the process for sending assistance internationally.

The weather forecast for Tel Aviv calls for warm, dry, and sunny weather through the weekend with 6 to 8 mph winds out of the northeast and relative humidities in the teens. For the 7 days after that the humidity will 33 to 57 percent with stronger winds on Wednesday through Friday.

Wildfires kill three on Portugal’s Madeira Island; fires force thousands to evacuate on the mainland

Above: A Google Earth 3-D map of the Portuguese Island of Madeira, looking northwest. (UPDATED at 7:25 a.m. MDT August 13, 2016) The satellite image below from Friday August 12, shows fewer heat sources on Madeira and less smoke from the wildfires. **** (Originally published at 4:42 MDT August 2, 2016) Wildfires on the Portuguese archipelago … Continue reading “Wildfires kill three on Portugal’s Madeira Island; fires force thousands to evacuate on the mainland”

Above: A Google Earth 3-D map of the Portuguese Island of Madeira, looking northwest.

(UPDATED at 7:25 a.m. MDT August 13, 2016)

The satellite image below from Friday August 12, shows fewer heat sources on Madeira and less smoke from the wildfires.

Madeira fires August 12, 2016
The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite over Madeira on August 12, 2016. Smoke can be seen drifting to the southeast. Click to enlarge.

****

(Originally published at 4:42 MDT August 2, 2016)

Wildfires on the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira have taken the lives of three civilians and destroyed over 150 homes while firefighters on the mainland are battling nearly 200 blazes. The fire has reached Madeira’s largest city, Funchal, which has a population of 110,000.

Madeira has no firefighting aircraft. They sometimes borrow CL-215’s, CL-415’s, (both are water-scooping air tankers) and Polish SOKOL helicopters from the Canary Islands 280 miles to the south.

Italy and Morocco have sent a total of three firefighting aircraft across the ocean to help control the fires. Russia has dispatched two Be-200 water-scooping air tankers, which last operated in Portugal in 2006.

Map of fires on Madeira
The red dots on the photo of Madeira represent heat detected by a NASA satellite on August 10, 2016. Smoke can be seen drifting off to the southwest.

Madeira is in the north Atlantic, 530 miles southwest of Portugal. The terrain on the popular tourist island is very steep which no doubt presents a challenging environment for firefighters.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times:

…The fire caused chaos, panic and despair around Funchal. Portuguese television showed elderly people, many of them barefoot or in wheelchairs, being escorted to safety in the middle of the night by emergency services or neighbors. Residents watched in tears as their homes burned down, and some were seen running around helplessly, trying to cover their faces to minimize smoke inhalation…

The four images in the tweet below are very impressive.

This video, uploaded today, was shot from a cable car as it travelled over areas affected by the fire. It’s a little long at 18 minutes, but if you skip around it gives an overview of some of the effects of the fire.

Ten things I think I think

As the Aerial Firefighting conference winds down at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, these are the 10 things I think I think (with apologies to Peter King). 1. I think 150 scoops in a water-scooping CL-215T in a 13-hour flying day is pretty amazing. That’s what a pilot from Spain told me he accomplished … Continue reading “Ten things I think I think”

As the Aerial Firefighting conference winds down at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, these are the 10 things I think I think (with apologies to Peter King).

1. I think 150 scoops in a water-scooping CL-215T in a 13-hour flying day is pretty amazing. That’s what a pilot from Spain told me he accomplished on a fire one time before his agency changed the policy of no limit on the number of hours flown to nine hours per day. The average number of scoops he usually completes now is 10 per hour.

basket2. I think the extraction/insertion upside down folding “umbrella” demonstrated by Aviation Safety Tactical today for hauling personnel by helicopter to a remote area is pricey at $75,000 each. A representative said the price will come down if it ever goes into mass production.

3. I think it will be interesting to see if the only purpose-built Type 1 air tanker, the Be-200, ever obtains FAA and Interagency Air Tanker Board approvals. The Be-200 is the Russian-made, jet-powered, 3,170-gallon, amphibious water scooping air tanker made by Beriev. The manufacturer and an American company headed by David Baskett are still trying to push the approval through the bureaucracy. We need more purpose-built air tankers.

4. I think it is surprising that with the highly publicized California drought the two hotels I stayed in while in Sacramento both had high-volume shower heads — the large saucer-shaped versions that Holiday Inn Express advertises on billboards. One community not far from here is requiring residents to reduce their water consumption by 25%, under threat of large fines if they don’t comply.

5. I think I was lucky to be routed into the expedited screening security line at the Rapid City Airport. I was pleased that I did not have to remove the boarding pass from my pocket, take off my belt and shoes, or remove my computer from my carry-on while it went through the machine.

6. I think I miss the days when on a flight we at least were given a tiny bag of peanuts. It is only a distant memory now. How long will it be before they start charging for a soda pop or a glass of water?

7.  I think hotels need more electrical outlets. In order to plug in the coffee maker, I had to crawl under a table and unplug the TV or a lamp that I needed, or carry the machine across the room where there was a vacant outlet. Then there’s other devices that also need electricity, like the computer, camera battery charger, and the cell phone.

8.  I think that since the Lions Gate Hotel at McClellan totally screwed up my reservation, telling me I had none in spite of the printout I showed them of the email confirming the damn thing, I will never go near that hotel again.

9.  I think it is impressive that to get ready for the grid test of their BAe-146 air tanker, Minden Air Corp obtained and pounded into the earth 3,155 four-foot “T posts” to hold the cups that will catch and measure the retardant. The grid test is a requirement to obtain certification from the Interagency Air Tanker Board. The retardant caught in the cups, which are spread over a large area, can determine the distribution of the retardant.

10. Requiring suits and ties for a fire conference is stupid. Hey Tangent Link and conference chair retired Admiral Terry Loughran formerly of the Royal Navy — the 1950s called and they want their “dress code” back.