Neptune completes their part of the conversion process on two USFS Sherpas

C-23B at Neptune

Photo above: C-23Bs being worked on by Neptune Aviation. Neptune photo.

Neptune Aviation has finished their portion of the process of converting two of the U.S. Forest Service C-23B Sherpa aircraft to civilian SD3-60 certificates. The contract Neptune received last year could involve converting another 13 of the former U.S. Army Sherpas. The USFS expects to use them to haul smokejumpers, personnel, and cargo.

Neptune’s project began at the USFS facility in Ogden, Utah where the first two aircraft were done, but is in the final stages of being moved to the company’s facilities in Missoula, Montana for the remaining aircraft.

Field Aviation in Oklahoma City began the process in October, 2015 of converting the analog cockpits in the Sherpas to glass flight decks using the Garmin G950 system.

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5 thoughts on “Neptune completes their part of the conversion process on two USFS Sherpas”

  1. What a serious WASTE of tax payers $$$ – the Surpa is a piece of junk, why do you think there stored and not flying in the military. The only reason they were bought by the Air Force was to move the F100 engine, that just fit in a C23 around Europe. Well they have C130’s that do it better, so they junked them. Now politics are in play, how sad!

    1. I should have stated that the total lack of performance in the European climate the aircraft could barely carry the mail across the water between England and France or Germany. So the USFS is going to operate them under much worst conditions then Europe, meaning in HOT AIR conditions and higher altitudes! The Sherpa isn’t going to cut it. It is and will become the USFS F35!

      1. Joe you seem to have some past experience with the Sherpa’s to be making your statements, but what other aircraft is available to the USFS to replace all the older jump aircraft and also have the STOL and cargo capabilities of the Sherpa. While it may not be the best aircraft ever produced there are some who feel it will be around for a long time. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with your post just offering some additional information below that I’ve cut and pasted from the web about the Sherpa’s past record. One of which the Sherpa still had a need so single tail 360 passenger models were converted to the twin tail Sherpa’s to meet the Army Guard’s needs
        Here is some of the information I found on the web.
        “After Bombardier purchased Short Bros. the decision had been taken to stop building whole aircraft in Belfast. The U.S. Congress had voted additional funds for more Sherpa aircraft in the meantime, however, so it was decided to ‘build them used, if we couldn’t build them new, so used Model 360-300 passenger aircraft were purchased in the open market and modified to C-23B standard at the West Virginia Air Center (WVAC) in Bridgeport. New tail sections were built at de Havilland in Downsview, Ontario, and shipped to West Virginia. Meanwhile, Model 360-300 fuselages were cut forward of the wing and a section removed to conform to the shorter C-23 length. Twenty-eight (28) C-23B+s were remanufactured at WVAC from 1994 to 1996 and delivered to ARNG. These aircraft were organized into four Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Groups located around the U.S.
        The Army Guard announced in early January 2014 that its fleet of forty-two (42) C-23Bs and C-23B+s were to be retired from active service after over twenty years of operation. Budget cutbacks make the Sherpa’s un-affordable – notwithstanding operating costs that are a fraction of CH-47 Chinooks and C-130s. The aircraft had become an integral part of the army’s fixed wing component and will be missed by users worldwide. The U.S. Forest Service has announced it will take fifteen (15) C-23Bs, to complement the four (4) C-23As from EDSA. One can’t help believe other organizations – either government or civil – will pick up the remaining Sherpa’s now stored in the desert and put them back into the sky”.

  2. Bill, it is a stretch to consider the Sherpa a STOL airplane. I have operated off of 2500 ft strips with the A model but was “going out empty”. It has no “high and hot” performance. It will reach gross weight before you fill up the cargo area unless you are hauling Kleenex. The other airplanes in use do it better.

    The motivation for converting SD-360’s to C-23B+’s was political pork for West Virginia. The Army Guard replaced Twin Otters with them but not because they really wanted to.

    The State of Alaska turned down the “gift” of the 8 C-23B airframes. Those airplanes were manufactured as B’s, not converted and have perhaps 6,000 hours total time compared to 23,700 for the USFS “new” Sherpas (18,100 as SD-360 and 5,600 as C-23B+).

    The Dornier and Twin Otter are both currently in production. The best airplanes for Alaska are the Casa and Dornier, for the L-48 use the Twin Otter and the Dornier.

  3. Joe, So glad you responded with an explanation that is based on your experience and knowledge. I’m and aviation follower, but not a pilot. I live close to Missoula International (KMSO) and since moving here in the 2009 somehow got interested in Neptune Aviation and fire tankers, so I’ve watched Neptune develop the Bae146 and see the Sherpa’s during the Smokejumper’s Spring training jumps close to my home.

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