Update on single engine air tankers, fire season 2017

Above: SEATs 802 and 824 at Boise, July 19, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

When we discovered that the number of Type 1 helicopters on exclusive use (EU) contracts has been reduced this year by 18 percent, from 34 to 28, we started looking into the numbers of fixed wing air tankers.

The solicitation for EU Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) has closed and the award decision is in progress. According to Randall Eardley, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Land management, the agency that handles contracting for SEATs, the number of these aircraft on EU contracts is expected to be the same as in 2016 — 33 aircraft. Firm numbers will be available after the contracts are issued.

The Call When Needed (CWN) contracts for SEATs have already been awarded for 80 aircraft from 16 vendors, which is up from 67 aircraft in 2016. Mr. Eardley explained, “The increase in CWN aircraft available is due to increased capacity through new and existing vendors.”

We expect to have in the next few days information about large and very large air tankers on contract this year.


One thought on “Update on single engine air tankers, fire season 2017”

  1. Any more data on who the vendors are (such as the chart you typically issue for other types of Aircraft under contract), what kind of SEATs these are (make, amphibious/wheeled), etc. Are these generally crop planes being redeployed at different times of the year. I’d love to see more coverage of these aircraft in these pages.

    The spokesperson refered to capacity (i.e. supply) as the driver of the increased number of SEATs under CWN – I wonder if this is not more strategic based on the federal budget environment and more of a strategic shift in demand to more economical (and apparently competitive) marketplace of aircraft vs. large tankers. Perhaps USFS Tankers and BLM SEAT programs are not comparing apples to apples..

    Maybe the Disney movie got more attention for BLM (vs. the perenial issues at USFS…) thinking about these beautiful machines…(ha!)

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