Air Spray signs contract with CAL FIRE

Air Spray Tanker 482, an L-188, at Chico, California. September 13, 2013.
Air Spray Tanker 482, an L-188, at Chico, California. September 13, 2013.

Air Spray, an air tanker company with headquarters in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, has received a Call When Needed contract from CAL FIRE for an L-188 Electra “Long Liner” air tanker. The company flew Tanker 482 down to California last week, Chico and later McClennan, to get the aircraft and pilots carded by CAL FIRE. The flight crew will be evaluated by CAL FIRE this week.

Air Spray will leave the L-188 at Chico until the weather turns, and when activated on the CWN contract, they will fly a crew down from Red Deer. They may add up to three more L-188s to the contract when the air tankers are released from their Canadian contracts.

Air Spray also operates Turbo Commander 690 “Bird Dogs” or lead planes, as well as some charter aircraft.

The L-188’s air frame is virtually the same as the P-3, a maritime patrol aircraft which has also seen service in its later years as an air tanker; the L-188 has been called a P-3 with windows. Both of them carry about 3,000 gallons of retardant.

Last year Air Spray established a new United States base at Chico and announced that they had acquired a BAe-146 airliner which they would convert into an air tanker in the new facility.

They hired several workers who had previously worked for the now bankrupt Aero Union. Seven of Aero Union’s P-3 air tankers have been parked at McClellan for over a year, with an eighth in Canada. They are still owned by the bank, unsold, due to the very high cost of putting them back into flyable shape. The rumors that the P-3s have been scrapped are not true.


Thanks go out to Johnny, Walt, and Jerome.

4 thoughts on “Air Spray signs contract with CAL FIRE”

  1. I work a couple of hangars down from the AU P-3’s. They are all still sitting there doing nothing. They haven’t moved in over 2 years.

  2. Canadian companies are stepping in-BTW the Electras are as old as
    Erickson’s DC-7s (hmmm…)
    The 580’s are older….

  3. Erickson’s (Butler/Aero Air) DC-7’s should already have a CWN contract with CAL FIRE as well as resource sharing agreement with the ODF. CAL FIRE activating their just in case back-up plan if Santa Ana fire season gets to be a problem. Seems prudent. Likely would only be allowed to drop on state lands and not federal lands.

    Chico ER has an article as well and a couple photos.

    T-482 – C-FLJO L-188C S/N 1103 (ex N429NA) manufactured 1961.
    Part of the civil fleet for the FAA from 1961 to 1979, and then NASA from 1979 to 1995. Was stored from 1995 onwards then purchased by Neptune Aviation in 2004 for a planned conversion. Conversion didn’t happen, then Neptune then sold it to Airspray in 2006. Converted into an air tanker by Airspray in 2007.

    Equpped with an Aero Union RADS II 3,000 USG tank. Normally carries the full amount.

  4. Don’t put your shovels away yet in California. October has been a month of devastating fires, throughout the State not just in So. Cal. Until the wetting rains arrive all it will take is a North/East (Nor Cal) or Sun Downer/Santa Ana. As far as using the Air Spray tanker on State fires not Federal, it will not matter where the fire starts; it could start within State responsibility, or threaten State responsibility lands. This State is a patch-work of Fed and State (private).

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