10 APRIL 2017
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Still one of the most popular passenger aircraft, the BAe 146/Avro RJ is finding a new role as a wildfire fighter in North America, with 22 in service or under conversion for the role.
The 2016 wildfire season saw 14 in-service BAE Systems Regional Aircraft-built BAe 146-200s and Avro RJ85s of Neptune Aviation and Conair/Aero-Flite flying well over 5,800 tanker missions.
They dropped more than 12.5m gallons of retardant to help to control some of the 67,595 recorded wildfires in the US and well over 5,000 in Canada. Another eight of the aircraft are under conversion.
For this year’s coming “fire season”, 58%, or 11 of 19, of the large airtankers – 3,000 gallon capacity – contracted by the US Forest Service are BAe 146-200/Avro RJ85s, underlining the vital role now played by the aircraft.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft plays an active role in supporting both Neptune Aviation and Conair as well as Air Spray, whose first BAe 146 airtanker is scheduled to fly this year.
Wildfire suppression costs across all agencies in the US in 2016 were nearly $2bn, underlining the importance of the aircraft. Firefighting now accounts for a record 52% of the Forest Service budget compared to just 16% in 1995.
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