US Forest Service awards ‘Next Generation’ air tanker contracts

The US Forest Service awarded its long-awaited ‘Next Generation’ air tanker contracts, worth USD158 million, on 6 May. The contracts had been initially awarded in August 2012, but then rescinded after the General Accountability Office (GAO) upheld protests from some of the un-successful bidders. The new recipients include Minden Air, for one BAe 146, and Aero-Flite, for two Avro RJ85s. Surprisingly, however, Neptune Aviation — who had won a contract for two BAe 146 air tankers in the first round — was passed over. The omission is particularly suprising as Neptune already has two operational 146 air tankers, with more being readied. Both Minden’s 146 conversion and Aero Flite’s RJ85 conversion (which is being undertaken by Canada’s Conair) have yet to fly. Neptune is currently operating under a ‘legacy’ contract which was recently renewed.

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