I ran across an interesting document on the Southwest Coordination Center’s web site in the Aviation section titled BAe-146 Next Generation Airtanker Frequently Asked Questions. It is dated November 13, 2012 and in four and a half pages talks a lot about the BAe-146, but also refers frequently and generally to next generation air tankers. The entire document is HERE. Below is an example of one of the FAQs.
“Q. Why do you overfly some airtanker bases?
Next Generation Aircraft will have the capability of traveling at 450 plus MPH. This speed advantage will make it possible for an aircraft to fly to another airtanker base that has longer runways and faster fueling services. This will result in delivering the largest load of retardant and, many times, quicker turnaround times for the firefighters on the ground.
We need to view this more as gallons delivered to the ground. Because of the speed of these jet airtankers, distances between airtanker bases and the fire mean very little. The airtanker bases at large airports have longer runways, meaning the airtanker can haul more retardant. Example: T-40 can haul 2850 gallons of retardant from Mesa-Gateway Airtanker Base even though it is very hot there. The field elevation is very low and has a long runways(12,000 feet). T-40 flying from Silver City Airtanker Base can only haul 1900 gallons because the field elevation is close to 6,000 feet and 90 degrees with a 7,000-foot runway. The difference in time delivered may only be 5 minutes.
This information is discussed with either the Lead Plane, Air Attack or Incident Commander before this decision is made. The Pilot in Command will divert based on unsafe conditions of any airtanker base which may include but not be limited to weather.
Air Attack or Lead/ASM should pass this information to the dispatch office. In the event the closest airtanker base is being overflown, the dispatch office shall notify SWCC.”