Air Spray — the largest tenant at Red Deer Airport

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Air Spray executives
Ravi Saip and Paul Lane, in front of one of their Electras at Chico, California, on March 21, 2014. The aircraft is under a CWN contract with CAL FIRE. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The Red Deer County web site has an article about Air Spray — an air tanker company that has bases in Alberta at Red Deer and at Chico in northern California. Below is the beginning of the article.


“Red Deer Airport – Alberta’s Air Spray Makes Its International Mark

The largest tenant at Red Deer Airport, Air Spray is making an international difference for its work in fire suppression across Canada and in the United States. Despite the importance of their role, however, its specialized nature means the company’s work – and its astounding growth – often pass unremarked on in the general community.

Since the mid-1970s, Air Spray has operated out of Red Deer Airport; its original business of fire suppression has evolved into specialized pilot training and developing new aircraft for fire suppression. These business lines ensure steady growth for the company throughout Canada and into the USA, but the Edmonton-based company runs all their aviation operations from their Red Deer Airport location.

“Air Spray is primarily a forest fire suppression company – during the fire season, we work throughout Alberta, BC, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and California,” says Paul Lane, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Air Spray…”

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7 thoughts on “Air Spray — the largest tenant at Red Deer Airport”

  1. “We are developing the next generation of our tanker there, and we’ll bring it on in the US first,” Lane says. “Because of the longer fire season in the US, there will be more demand for the tanker there.”

    I presume this is the BAe146 undergoing conversion in Chico? The US will see this aircraft first because all the Canadian customers have long-term contracts in place with the L-188 airtankers, because those L-188s are able to fly in that role in Canada and because the Canadian customers are currently reluctant to pay 2-3x the cost for a “next-gen” aircraft that hauls the same load at the same speed as those perfectly good Electras. Yes, eventually, they will need to be replaced. But today, it’s very hard to beat the performance of the L-188 for the cost of service.

    From the article: “The new aircraft is a single engine tanker that will be available in two versions: one with wheel’s and a float-based version that can land on water, scoop it up and then drop it on the fire. While the float-based concept has been around for a long time, the version Air Spray is developing will be significantly smaller than the float-based aircraft that are currently available, and therefore significantly less expensive to purchase and to maintain.”

    Which aircraft is this? AirSpray has become an 802 operator (two currently on contract in the US) and is getting into the FireBoss business, but there are some details above that don’t make sense.

    1. “Which aircraft is this?”

      It is an airctrctor 402 on floats. This will reflect what the current Fireboss actually carries for a load. 400 gallons.

  2. Are you joking? An AT-402?

    If any -402 pilots can correct me, I’d be grateful, but my understanding is that it carries a maximum of 400 USG in the hopper. Not exactly a significant load to begin with. It advertises a useful load of 4871 lbs (as per the Air Tractor specs), so let’s do the math. Assuming we take off with a full load (4000 lbs of H20 – heavier if retardant), and we have a pilot (200 lbs incl flight suit, PFD and mandatory helmet), and some oil (say 50 lbs?), and the contract-specified charts/tablet and avionics (FM, AFF + goodies & wiring) must approximate another 50 lbs and let’s say half the fuel load of 170 USG (so, 85 USG x 6.8 lbs/gallon of jet fuel = 580 lbs). So we’re already at our max useful load with only a half tank of gas on board and we haven’t even put the darned floats on. Unless they’re filled with helium, they’ll add another few hundred lbs to the equation. So where do we trim the fat? What is the hot/high performance of the -15AG engine?

    An AT-802AF with the 1600hp -F engine will average 600 USG of water throughout a four-hour mission under ISA conditions.

    1. Chris,
      I am not a -402 pilot, but I will correct your math.
      You must be a Canuck. I do believe you are correct with your volume being 400US gallons, but a US gallon of water weighs just over 8lbs. So the total load with water would be about 3300+/- pounds.

      1. Thank you. I stand corrected. My skepticism remains regarding the ability of an AT-402 on floats to carry both a meaningful load of water and a meaningful load of fuel.

  3. I carry 700-750 gallons regularly in the 802.

    Field conditions, however dictate what can or should be carried safely.

    1. Sorry Doug, I should have clarified: that was 600 USG for the amphib FireBoss. Or is that what you fly or are you on wheels? If amphib, you’re doing very very well for such a high average load.

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