Minden Air has taken delivery of a former Air Wisconsin BAe 146-200, N606AW (msn E2033), and begun converting her to the air tanker role. In late 2004, Minden Air tested a BAe 146-100 for possible use as an air tanker, with very good results. The 146 will have a tank assembly installed inside the main cabin and louvered “bomb bay” doors installed in the forward cargo compartment, an arrangement similar to that used in the company’s two Lockheed P-2 Neptune fire tankers. The usual payload would consist of Phos-check, a red-colored chemical fire retardant used in fire-suppression efforts. The retardant is typically dropped ahead of an advancing fire. Manufactured in 1985, N606AW had spent her entire life to date with Air Wisconsin, operating on behalf of United Express. In the process, she accumulated over 37,000 hours and 53,000 cycles. She operated her last United Express service on 21 January, and was ferried to Minden Air three days later. Conversion to air tanker began on 4 February.
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