Jet tanker testing wraps up for week |

Jet tanker testing wraps up for week

Staff Reports
An air tanker drops fire retardant during a grid test on Tuesday.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

Work to certify a jet air tanker owned by Minden Air Corp. wrapped up on Wednesday as officials from the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration observed.

Approval to use the aircraft for air drops will come from the FAA, which regulates it as an agricultural use.

The BAe-146 jet aircraft underwent a cup test this week, which showed how effective the aircraft is at delivering fire retardant to a target.

Nevada inmates set out cups on Tuesday and Wednesday, then collected them after the aircraft made its drop to measure how much retardant was in each cup.

Minden Air owner Len Parker has been working to get approval to convert the British Aerospace aircraft since 2000.

The forest service contracted with Minden Air last year to add the Fireliner to help update the fleet of air tankers flying in the United States.

Many of the aircraft, including Minden Air’s P2V Neptune, date back to the middle of the 20th Century. There are eight heavy tankers under contract with the U.S. Forest Service, according to the website, including Minden Air’s P2V Tanker No. 46. Neptune Aviation also has a BAe-146 under contract with the Forest Service, along with six P2Vs.

With summer starting on Saturday, and several warnings for extreme fire weather so far this year, fire services are anticipating a difficult wild fire season.