Agreement sought to manufacture Be-200 air tankers in California

The aircraft would be manufactured in Santa Maria, California.

(Last Updated On: October 22, 2016)

A businessman in Santa Maria, California, who has long been interested in the Russian-made Be-200 scooping air tanker, is pursuing still another avenue to use the aircraft in the United States.

David Baskett is the director of Santa Maria’s airport, president of TTE International, and is associated with International Emergency Services (IES).  Campaigning for years to import the 3,000-gallon Be-200 air tanker, in 2010 he arranged for one of the aircraft to visit the United States. It was on display at Santa Maria, California and made a demonstration water drop. Mr. Baskett said then that his plan was to purchase 10 of the aircraft and lease them to air tanker operators in the United States.

A Be-200ES rolls out for the public while another makes a demonstration water drop. May 30, 2016 at the Beriev factory in Taganrog, Russia.

Now he says he is working with the Beriev Aircraft Company (that makes the aircraft), Global Seaplanes, and Airbus to manufacture the aircraft in Santa Maria. He hopes that the air tanker will receive FAA certification.

Several years ago some U.S. Forest Service employees traveled to Taganrog, Russia the home base of the Beriev company, to conduct tests to determine if the Be-200 could be approved by the Interagency AirTanker Board (IAB). At the time, we heard unofficial reports that it met the criteria for water-scooping air tankers, but tests were not completed for dropping fire retardant.

This is not the first announcement that the Be-200 would be manufactured in the United States. In 2014 USA Firefighting Air Corps (USAFAC) said they signed a collaboration agreement with IES to produce the Be-200 in Colorado. USAFAC co-founder Chris Olson told the Colorado Wildfire Matters Review Committee that the company was in discussions with international financiers to back the initiative’s $500 million proposition.

USAFAC at the same time was proposing to convert the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt into an air tanker.

4 thoughts on “Agreement sought to manufacture Be-200 air tankers in California”

  1. May be some problems getting the engine/ spares. The D-436 is manufactured in the Ukraine next to the Donbas region.

    “However, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine raises five key challenges for Motor Sich. First, it may lose access to the Russian market. Approximately 40 per cent of the 1,000 engines to be produced in 2014 should be allocated to the Russian market. Second, an interruption of supplies from Russia would hamper the execution of orders to other countries. Third, the conflict with Russia threatens joint projects, both military (An-70) as well as civilian ones.”

    Add to that the fact that the U.S. and Russia are not on the best of terms and that more trade sanctions might be contemplated.

  2. Why would anyone attempt to do business in California? Historically five major air tanker companies had operations in California and either move or shut the doors. Just something to think about. Two thoughts about Nevada, more specifically corporate law and experience and expertise associated with Minden Air. Manufacturing is one component the other is knowing your way around the air tanker business.

    1. Johnny – I think your last sentence says it all!

      Personally this project makes no sense in to many ways, most of them mentioned above. There are to many other options out there that could work. It only takes some good craftsmanship and common sense (key words) and understanding about what will / could / or never work. I’m sure there are a lot of aircraft concepts and tank designs out there, some make sense some don’t, some will work, some could never be productive. Understanding the government agencies and how they function is critical and probably the hardest thing to learn – experience is key here. Lastly – there’s the $$$, we can come close, but one never knows how much is needed until it’s built, tested and in service.

      Personally, I think there are 2 aircraft that would make incredible tankers, but little to no interest in the airframes has ever been mentioned. I’ve even got tank designs for each aircraft. Well, life goes on, as will the industry and we’ve all heard this before – IF I ONLY HAD THE MONEY!!!!

  3. I was once told (reliable top level source) that at the Federal level that just very few managers make the final decisions for acceptance or denial of a fixed wing air tanker project. Regardless how good a companies project performs it is in the hands of those with the “check book.” With Bombardier releasing its rights to Viking Air for the support of the CL 215 and 415 and limiting production of new CL 415 (one a year?) it would indicate that the 170 CL 215 and CL415 scoopers in service world wide have saturate the market. Or to put it another way, is the economic ability of countries at its saturation limit.

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