Agreement sought to manufacture Be-200 air tankers in California

The aircraft would be manufactured in Santa Maria, California.

A businessman in Santa Maria, California, who has long been interested in the Russian-made Be-200 scooping air tanker, is pursuing still another avenue to use the aircraft in the United States.

David Baskett is the director of Santa Maria’s airport, president of TTE International, and is associated with International Emergency Services (IES).  Campaigning for years to import the 3,000-gallon Be-200 air tanker, in 2010 he arranged for one of the aircraft to visit the United States. It was on display at Santa Maria, California and made a demonstration water drop. Mr. Baskett said then that his plan was to purchase 10 of the aircraft and lease them to air tanker operators in the United States.

A Be-200ES rolls out for the public while another makes a demonstration water drop. May 30, 2016 at the Beriev factory in Taganrog, Russia.

Now he says he is working with the Beriev Aircraft Company (that makes the aircraft), Global Seaplanes, and Airbus to manufacture the aircraft in Santa Maria. He hopes that the air tanker will receive FAA certification.

Several years ago some U.S. Forest Service employees traveled to Taganrog, Russia the home base of the Beriev company, to conduct tests to determine if the Be-200 could be approved by the Interagency AirTanker Board (IAB). At the time, we heard unofficial reports that it met the criteria for water-scooping air tankers, but tests were not completed for dropping fire retardant.

This is not the first announcement that the Be-200 would be manufactured in the United States. In 2014 USA Firefighting Air Corps (USAFAC) said they signed a collaboration agreement with IES to produce the Be-200 in Colorado. USAFAC co-founder Chris Olson told the Colorado Wildfire Matters Review Committee that the company was in discussions with international financiers to back the initiative’s $500 million proposition.

USAFAC at the same time was proposing to convert the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt into an air tanker.

5 thoughts on “Agreement sought to manufacture Be-200 air tankers in California”

  1. May be some problems getting the engine/ spares. The D-436 is manufactured in the Ukraine next to the Donbas region.

    “However, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine raises five key challenges for Motor Sich. First, it may lose access to the Russian market. Approximately 40 per cent of the 1,000 engines to be produced in 2014 should be allocated to the Russian market. Second, an interruption of supplies from Russia would hamper the execution of orders to other countries. Third, the conflict with Russia threatens joint projects, both military (An-70) as well as civilian ones.”

    Add to that the fact that the U.S. and Russia are not on the best of terms and that more trade sanctions might be contemplated.

  2. Why would anyone attempt to do business in California? Historically five major air tanker companies had operations in California and either move or shut the doors. Just something to think about. Two thoughts about Nevada, more specifically corporate law and experience and expertise associated with Minden Air. Manufacturing is one component the other is knowing your way around the air tanker business.

    1. Johnny – I think your last sentence says it all!

      Personally this project makes no sense in to many ways, most of them mentioned above. There are to many other options out there that could work. It only takes some good craftsmanship and common sense (key words) and understanding about what will / could / or never work. I’m sure there are a lot of aircraft concepts and tank designs out there, some make sense some don’t, some will work, some could never be productive. Understanding the government agencies and how they function is critical and probably the hardest thing to learn – experience is key here. Lastly – there’s the $$$, we can come close, but one never knows how much is needed until it’s built, tested and in service.

      Personally, I think there are 2 aircraft that would make incredible tankers, but little to no interest in the airframes has ever been mentioned. I’ve even got tank designs for each aircraft. Well, life goes on, as will the industry and we’ve all heard this before – IF I ONLY HAD THE MONEY!!!!

  3. I was once told (reliable top level source) that at the Federal level that just very few managers make the final decisions for acceptance or denial of a fixed wing air tanker project. Regardless how good a companies project performs it is in the hands of those with the “check book.” With Bombardier releasing its rights to Viking Air for the support of the CL 215 and 415 and limiting production of new CL 415 (one a year?) it would indicate that the 170 CL 215 and CL415 scoopers in service world wide have saturate the market. Or to put it another way, is the economic ability of countries at its saturation limit.

    1. This aircraft could prove a lifesaver in New Zealand in a multi-tasking quick reconfigeration role. Wellington, the capital city, may soon be damaged severely by a big earthquake, say up to 7.5 magnitude. The Alp fault in the South Island,is overdue for an earthquake which could be as great as magintude 9 and which could effect about half the country in a big way.
      Most of New Zealand’s airport will suffer severe damage and some could be unsuable for long periods of time, maybe months for a few of them. A large number of population centres have large areas capable of being used as water landing strips. Queenstown is a good example. At any one time this town has a large tourist population that would demand as speedy evacuation, in days, not weeks or months. It would also need a rapid import of emergency supplys. water,food and fuel and in winter clothing. There would also be a requirement for specialist personal to control and operate in the disaster situation. Lake Wakitipu is that body of water. Since this town has this inland lake, no marine evacuation would take place but the lake would be available for the transportation facility for import of neseccary supplys and personnel.
      If Wellington were to suffer severe damage the Governmemt would most likely want to relocate. Wellington Harbour would be the landing area.
      If the Alpine Fault factures the West Coast, (of the South Island) would most likely be totally isolated. The coastline here might well be the only escape route for tourist and the local communities. This coast could be used for a marine evacuation but this could take time to organise.
      Recently, February, Christchurch, a city recently hit (2010 and 2011) by earthquakes (also suffered from a large fire that penetrated the city boundary and destroyed a few houses) might well be up for another earthquake. Water bombers would have been useful in the fire. In another eartquake they could operate from Lyttleton Harbour.
      The Kaikoura earthquake (2018, Magnitude 7 ) which had 21 faults fracture destroying about 70 miles (over one hundred kms) of national highway and railway, (railroad) causing substantial disrupt to freight businesses, tourists and private citizens until 2018. A multi-national naval exercise at the time evacuated tourist and others trapped in Kakoura town. There was also a multitude of small helicopters in the rescue operation how this operation took considerable time to carry out due to small numbers of people being moved at any one time. Water bombing could have been used the to provide high volume sluicing of the massive landslides.
      It seems to me that the BE 200 with the capability of rapid, – minutes and hours, – not days, would have been useful and could be useful. Christchurch Kaikoura, Wellington and the West Coast all have areas of water that could be IMMEDIATELY available for an aircraft of this size.
      Just for sake of arguement, and a starting point, a fleet of these aircraft would be a means of achieving very quick and rapid response to any of the catistrophic events that are being predicted. 32 aircraft ( 2 Squadrons of 16 aircraft each, 12 servieable and ready to go and 4 on standby and/or maintenance) might well be worthy of considerable.
      One of your previous commentators raises the issue of spares and contracts. Aircraft manufacturing in the numbers, I suugest, might well re-engined with American or British engines.
      In the New Zealand scenerio the aircraft could well be a civilian component of the Royal New Zealand Airforce or as Squadrons of the Civil Defence organisation.
      This number of aircraft may well mean that some aircraft might well be available to fight the massive bush fires in Australia. The short distance across the Tasman Sea would mean that the response time could be very acceptable to the Australians. Aircraft in these numbers might also be deployed in Cyclone (weather event) devastated Pacific and South East Asian nations.
      Is this worthy of consideration? Over to you.

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