Neptune’s newest BAe-146 air tanker

air tanker 12 bae-146 neptune
Neptune’s “new” Tanker 12, going through last minute checks at Missoula, July 14, 2015, before it was due to depart for its contract with CAL FIRE. Photo by Bill Moss.

Bill Moss photographed Neptune’s newest air tanker for us, Tanker 12, on Tuesday as it was going through last minute checks and inspections the day before it was due to report for duty with CAL FIRE. It is expected to begin the contract at 10 a.m. on July 15 at Porterville, California. (We first wrote about this contract on July 10, 2015.)

CAL FIRE is also contracting for a second large air tanker, Erickson’s Tanker 60, a DC-7, to supplement their 22 S-2Ts.

Neptune took delivery of Tanker 12 on May 15 from Tronos Aviation of Summerside, PE, Canada and converted it into an air tanker in house at Missoula. This is one of the Missoula company’s seven BAe-146-200s. The tanker numbers are 01, 02, 03 (still being converted) 10, 12, 40, & 41.

Mr. Moss tells us that the first flight for what is now T-12 was on May 13, 1991, after which it was operated by six different foreign carriers from June 1991 until August 2012.


This article was corrected to indicate that the conversion of this particular aircraft was done by Neptune, unlike at least one other of their BAe-146s that was done at Tronos.

12 thoughts on “Neptune’s newest BAe-146 air tanker”

  1. Neptune does all the tanker conversions in house. I believe Tanker 40 which Neptune took delivery back 2012 may have had some of the tanker conversions done by Tronos Aviation, but since then Neptune only receives the Bae146 from Tronos. Neptune had a very capable fabrication and paint shop.

    The six foreign carries used the Bae146 as a passenger carrier…just for clarification, but I’m sure most readers had figured this out.

  2. I think some of the confusion may result from the partnership between Neptune and Tronos. The airtanker conversion process of the -146s was conceived, developed and certified by Tronos, who own/manage a number of airframes and as airlines began to offload them, began to wonder “now what do we do with these things?”. They sought partnerships several years ago with existing airtanker operators, traveling the aerial firefighting conference circuit, and the relationship with Neptune was formed. The staff at Tronos are BAe-146 experts and trained the Neptune staff how to complete the conversions after the initial frame (Tanker 40) was completed.

    The work is today completed in-house in Missoula, but it’s all supported and supervised by Tronos.

    1. Tronos has not had any input on tank system for several years or maintenance input either. Their Only the firm they get the aircraft from.

  3. Was at PVL AAB today for lunch and a great tour of Tanker 12 on its first day. Absolutely stellar crafstmanship and attention to detail of the tank installation and design, along with just an overall impressive aircraft. Seen alot of pictures of the BAE 146 in flight and at a distance, but I was surprised at its physical size up close. The most interesting thing I learned about were the rear tail speed brakes which can be deployed in flight under full power to slow the drop speeds down. Almost makes me want to un-retire just to see how it does in the field……;) Good Luck to Neptune and Cal Fire for a safe and successful season. Sorry, forgot the camera.

  4. Okay, my mistake. Just as DLR said, Tronos hasn’t been involved w Neptune for years other than that is where the planes come from. Ends there.
    Chris seems to know quite a bit about this and he does not work at Neptune so I’d like to know what he does and for whom. In our past arguments about the lack of U.S. tankers for the State of AK. I believe Mr. Maloney must be Canadian which is great, and then I understand where he’s coming from. Thanks

    1. Thanks Bob.

      I was listening to the radio traffic on that fire. Last I heard at about 1:20 p.m. PT it was boxed in with retardant, firefighters were working the spot fires, rate of spread was stopped, and it had burned about 25 acres, including one double-wide mobile home and one or two other structures that air attack could not identify through the tree canopy.

  5. Flew this aircraft for a long time at Brussels Airlines and Korongo! Best 146 we had in the fleet! Nice to see it back in the air! Good tailwinds Tanker 12!

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