The Martin Mars 7,200-gallon flying boat air tanker has received a 30-day contract with the government of British Columbia. It was serviceable on Sunday, July 12 but since then has not been dispatched to any fires.
CKNW AM radio is reporting that the contract specifies a daily availability rate of $15,000 and a flight hour rate of $6,000. The average rates for the 14 large air tankers that the U.S. currently has under exclusive use contracts are a daily rate of $22,901 and $8,408 for each flight hour. Of those 14 air tankers, 13 of them can carry up to 2,000 to 4,000 gallons, and the DC-10 holds 11,600 gallons.
On their Facebook page, Coulson Flying Tankers, the company that owns the two Martin Mars air tankers, explained how this 30-day firefighting contract will affect their previous plans to train pilots from China who will be flying a new amphibious aircraft now being built:
…Coulson has a contract with International Test Pilot School (ITPS) from Ontario, Canada dating back to October of 2014. The contract is for Chinese Test Pilots to familiarize themselves with the largest float plane in the world.
The Chinese government currently has under construction the second largest seaplane in the world called a TA 600, which these pilots will be flying.
The original contract was between July 20 to July 30, but a modified contract is now in place where the aircraft will train the test pilots between July 20-26.
Coulson has also negotiated with ITPS the condition that the Mars must stay on call to the BCFS and a procedure has been worked out to remove flight crew being trained so the Mars can go to a fire if called.
We appreciate both the flexibility of ITPS and the BCFS to work out a solution to accomplish the goal of servicing both customers.