Shu reached out yesterday to share with us. Turns out, there was a small fire near his home, and the air attack tanker assets were out. And apparently, chasing him.
That’s an AT-802F, a floatplane tanker variant of a plane that was first designed as a cropduster.
That’s just about the smallest fixed wing tanker for firefighting I’m familiar with.
Down here in SoCal, when we have a fire, we tend to contract for the big boy, the Tanker 10 modified DC-10.
In recent years, the use of converted surplus military aircraft has fallen largely due to maintenance and fatigue issues. So a new market has opened for large air tankers for firefighting. And the availability of airframes on the surplus market has led to retired regional airliners being a popular option. For instance, the BAe 146 was a very quiet regional airliner designed to serve airports like London City, and Midway, and other airports with noise restrictions. Moderately successful as an airliner, it has recently been a popular choice for tanker conversion.
Here’s a picture of a dry test taken about 10 years ago.
The fires in western Canada are bad enough right now that Coulson’s JRM Mars might be getting a contract to do some dropping later this week.