Dispute threatens new BAe 146 air tanker contracts

A protest threatens to derail the contracts for new air tankers issued by the US Forest Service (USFS) in mid-June. The new contracts covered two more 146 tankers from Neptune Aviation, to be brought on-line in 2012, two from Minden Air, one to begin in 2012 and one in 2013, and an RJ85 tanker from Aero-Flite, in 2013, as well two McDonnell Douglas MD-87 tankers. However, two companies that were not awarded contracts have lodged a formal protest with the US federal General Accountability Office. The two protesting companies are 10 Tanker, which operates a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 tanker, and Coulson Aviation, which operates two Martin Mars flying boats. The GAO has up to 100 days to review the contract award, which could delay entry into service of the new tankers until late in this year’s fire season — or longer, if the competition has to be re-opened.

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