6 thoughts on “737”

  1. Bill, Conair Aviation actually evaluated a Boeing 737-200 as a potential air tanker in the early 1990s. Not sure why they didn’t proceed … This was probably two decades before their BAE RJ85 program.

    1. I am still amazed that we are using older AC and converting them to a platform that they were not build for.
      The even more sad part is that governments are willing to spend on hiring AC that are so.
      Ask the question “How much is a life worth” ? and the authorities will answer a gobble gook answer.

      SAD BUT TRUE.

    2. “ Bill, It was in fact Chief Pilot Gord Sherman for Air Spray at the time, envisioned the 737 as a new platform for the 737 air tanker in the late 80’s early 90’s. A 737-200 series was tested and flown by Airspray Captain Pete Mitcheal. Simulated runs were performed at altitude, and tests were carried out lowering the landing gear, flap to reduce the speeds required to the suit the drops currently being performed in Canada at the time. The other hurtle was not just the cost of the aircraft at the time compared to current aircraft being used and considered, but mainly the forward bases capabilities in western and northern Canada. Current runway lengths, airtanker base ramp sizes, loading pit sizes were not all suited for this aircraft.
      Gord passed away in an avalanche during a snowmobile trip, and Don Hamilton, founder of Air Spray proceeded with the development of the L-188 longliner and then to aquire the first CL-215 privately owned water bombing aircraft.
      The 737 plan was passed to Conair where then Chief pilot Walt Weslowski flew the 737 in the simulator. They also carried out various simulated runs in the simulator with similar results. Walt did say though with his vast talents of flying DC-6 type aircraft then, he was not familiar with the 737 type. Also the 737 captains in the simulator were not trained or familiar with airtanker style flying. Back then a tough combination of talent to find.
      Conair then dropped the program and proceed with the Convair and airtractor program.

  2. The 737 is certainly a potential candidate. There are a great many older models in storage or ready to retire. As a plus factor it’s a very economical aircraft to operate and the spares pool is huge. As, perhaps a negative, it’s a bigger aircraft the say the RJ-85, so ground handling is more of an issue on crowded forward support airfields, but as a positive, depending on the model in question it could carry 1,000 more gallons than an RJ.

    The low-wing configuration f the 737 is perhaps a negative factor for operating from forward support bases also, but the 737 has conversion kits for unpaved surfaces that would allow it to operate even from gravel runways, low-mounted engines and all.

    So I think the real deciding factor would be demand … if the marker expands significantly a 737 conversion could make sense, but I don’t see it happening very soon with today’s tanker utilization rate.

    As an aside, with respect to Eddy’s comment, I think I understand his feelings but the relatively simple conversion of existing, robust and well-proven airframes rather than a designed from scratch tanker aircraft seems to make the most sense today, with little or no decrease in safety.

    The air tanker mission is understandably higher risk/higher stress operation than straight point to point airline flying, but the age of the aircraft does not seem to be a significant factor.

    Interesting thought, though.

  3. The 737 is very similarly sized to a c-130 or the MD-87. I was at the Boeing plant last week and was thinking it is interesting there aren’t any 737 tankers.
    I think there are several reasons why we might not see any though.
    The engineering might make conversion difficult. On the BAE’s I know some important parts (either flight controls or hoses) had to be moved, and had to get engineering permission from BAE or else they would lose product support from BAE. It’s possible Boeing doesn’t want to play ball, or there are too many parts/structural members to be moved.
    Also the 737 might not be structurally sufficient. I know that the P-8 (the 737 based P-3) had to be modified and strengthened to better handle the rigors of low altitude flights and to accomadate the bomb bay.
    All major US air tanker bases are paved, but the 737 has a low ground clearance for the engines (at least the turbofan ones do). So there may be a FOD issue seeing as some if the air tanker bases are at smaller airports.
    The 737 is very popular so it may be hard to find a low cycle aircraft.

  4. You’d be amazed at what the Guppy can do. With Flaps 40, even without speed brakes, it likes to fall out of the sky. Get’s me out of “high and fast” every once in awhile.

    It’s all about the tank though. Gear well, where a bunch of hydraulic and flight control stuff is housed, is not completely sealed but aerodynamically doable. With a CG centric tank the exit/doors would be right we’re the AC Packs are. You could certainly get away with removing one of the packs to save weight and put your doors there.

    Can’t wait to see if the ol’ 7-3 slings mud well.

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