Neptune acquires their eighth BAe-146

neptune BAe-146
Neptune’s eighth BAe-146 arrives at Missoula September 29, 2016. Photo by Bill Moss.

One of the major winter projects at Neptune Aviation will be converting their eighth BAe-146 airliner into an air tanker. Aircraft N477NA arrived in Missoula September 29 after flying across the Atlantic via Reykjavik International Airport in Iceland.

Bill Moss, who took these photos, told us that the aircraft’s previous registration identifier was LA-HBZ and it had been flying for Bulgaria Air for the last five years. It has served with 10 different operators since its first commercial flight in 1988 for American Airlines.

Dan Snyder, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Neptune Aviation, said they are not certain what the aircraft’s tanker number will be, but they are considering Tanker 15. (Update November 22, 2016: it is confirmed to be Tanker 15.)

neptune BAe-146
Neptune’s eighth BAe-146 arrives at Missoula September 29, 2016. Photo by Bill Moss.

As the fire season in the west winds down, Mr. Snyder said two of their air tankers were released yesterday for the year but they still have seven operating for the U.S. Forest Service and one with CAL FIRE. All of their P2V’s will be migrating to their maintenance facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico which has a winter climate much more friendly to radial engines than Missoula.

Another long term project Neptune is working on is performing some of the work on the C-23B Sherpa aircraft the USFS got from the US Army to convert them to civilian SD3-60 certificates. They are usually working on one or two of the planes at a time, Mr. Snyder said, and will continue that project at least through 2017.

“That really is going to depend on the contract situation”, Mr. Snyder said when we asked if they plan to acquire any more BAe-146’s. “The Next-Gen 3.0 contract is supposedly going to be released sometime in the latter portion of this year or the first of next year. And that will greatly dictate what we do as a company, depending on how many line items they decide to release and what that situation looks like from a contracting standpoint.”

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8 thoughts on “Neptune acquires their eighth BAe-146”

  1. Neptune is sure going all in. Amazing that they have that many tankers out there working!

    What is the status of Erickson Aero Tanker? Did they get the retardant ingestion worked out?
    How about Aero Flite, looks like they have a good product as well. Any additions coming from them? And when are the Air Spray tankers coming? Anyone else out there plotting additional aircraft?

    1. I was told from an Aero Flite employee that T-165 and T-166 are tanked with no crews and they are in the process of tanking at least 3 more takers. Erickson did get the blessing for their new tank system and they are available but with no activity I don’t think we will be seeing them this season.

      1. Who gave Erickson a blessing? The forest service? The FAA?
        My reports are that they still have testing and FAA certification’s to do.
        Maybe my information is outdated.

  2. This week the F.S. C 130 Aerosol 116 has been pilot training in El Dorado County, Ca. With the private sector (as usual) providing the demands for fixed wing air tankers I wonder if the Feds really want to pursue the air tanker owner/operator business? Pilot training in the fall?

    1. Hey Johnny. How’s life? Do you have any other insights on the F.S. C 130 program. They seem to be in stealth mode.

      1. Just had breakfast near Columbia with some air types Cal Fire and F.S. Very quiet on the F.S. side. One of the attendees was an Air Ops Director (20 yrs) on a Fed team and wasn’t even aware that the F.S. was getting back into the air tanker business. Now that is really quiet! Aerosol 116 has been doing some pilot training as mentioned this last week. Remember Tanker 1H a P2V-5 that was assigned to A.U. which belong to the F.S tanked by Rosenbaum. Not much ever happened with that aircraft? It worked a few fires and then just sat. With current operators like Neptune, Aero-Flite, Erickson Aero, 10, and others the private sector will meet the demand for fixed wing aircraft. You asked me what time it was and I told you how to make a watch. New book on the horizon? johnny

  3. Aerosol 116 makes me laugh! What will it be called if it ever gets a gravity based tank? Not disagreeing with your view on the program though!

    Is Minden 100% out of business? What happened to their 146? It was painted and flying I thought? And did T-55 and T-48 end up in the scrap yard after their landing accidents?

  4. It would be nice if Minden could rise like the phoenix because Leonard built a no compromise airtanker. I rode along and observed when it flew a grid, cup test, at Minden. It was a minimal test, think minimal money to play the game. The usual suspects conducted the test, F.S. Sandia Lab. All involved concluded the results were exceptionally good. There was no discernable difference in flow rates with nose down pitch attitudes of 20 degrees. The tanker, 146, resides at Mindens facility along with a second BAE 146 and tanker 55. Tanker 48 was still in Fresno. I believe it is in the process of being recycled. Kind of ironic. The tanker business was one of the original green businesses, recycling aircraft from the beginning. Ultimately they will all be beer cans.
    I’m working on a book Johnny, on Fire Aviation. Fiction of course. I work out of Columbia occasionally. T-90 this year. Don’t know about the future. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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