BAE Systems is assisting several North American companies with converting BAe 146/Avro RJ regional airliners into 3,000 gallon U.S. type 1 air tankers, designed to join the aerial firefighting fleets of the U.S. and Canada.
According to the British manufacturer, a number of Type 1 Air tankers currently in the United States' federal wild land aerial firefighting fleet are converted Korean War era aircraft, such as the Convair 580s and Lockheed Electras, are entering the last few years of their operational lives. This forces the need to replace them with more modern aircraft.
Currently BAE Systems is providing assistance with air-tanker conversion programs for Canada's Conair Group, Tronos Plc, and Minden, Nevada-based Minden Air. Minden recently completed its for BAe 146 Fireliner, and is now undergoing flight testing with a second aircraft currently undergoing conversion. The companies operate aerial tankers and provide conversions for the U.S. Forest Service.
"The specialist design and engineering services provided by BAE Systems Regional Aircraft to these operators/conversions in support of their individual tanker designs include aerodynamic/computational fluid dynamics analysis; dynamic loads assessment; structural analysis; technical data packs; flight test planning and analysis; and flight test engineers and pilots," said Mark Taylor, director of engineering for BAE Systems' regional aircraft unit.
Related: U.S. Forest Service Need to Improve Aerial Firefighting Fleet