BE-200 USFS Testing Update

“Last week, the U.S. Forest Service, International Emergency Services, Inc., of Santa Maria CA,  and the Beriev Aircraft Company  (which has been building amphibious aircraft for 95 years) teamed up to test the new,  jet powered, fire fighting BE 200 – a 3000 gallon Large Air Tanker at the factory in Taganrog, Russia.  Beriev covered actual costs for conducting the long-planned tests.  Russian Federation, BE-200, Large Air Tanker,  IAB, USFS, Beriev, Scooper

For a period of 10 intensive work days, a dedicated, integrated  U.S. and Russian technical team  tested the multi-purpose BE 200  with U.S. instrumentation and equipment against a standardized criteria designed to ensure effective aerial fire suppression.

Phase 1 of the special program was a historic first, and indicates both the opportunity to introduce a specially designed, new fire fighting aircraft as well as the U.S. Forest Service’s desire to modernize it’s air tanker fleet with flight – proven technology.

First-Phase test criteria required putting the 90,000 pound airplane on special ramps for static flow tests and three days of flight testing to include demonstrations of the very effective Russian fire fighting “salvo” tactic onto an instrumented grid with 100 data points.

The 30 – day Phase II test program is scheduled for late this summer and will include the use of the U.S. Forest Service standard retardant flown over and then dropped on about 3,000 data collection points.

Preliminary Phase 1 test results indicate that the BE 200 passed the Interagency Airtanker Board (IAB) criteria for scoopers, heavily used in Europe and Canada, which are likely to see more service in fighting US fires.  Scoopers can load up with lake, river or ocean  water in 15-20 seconds by skimming over the water at about 120-130  MPH to collect it with special inlets on the hull,  then dropping it in direct attacks on  the fire.

Studies indicate that more than 80% of US wildfires are within 10 minutes of a suitable water source .

Large Air Tankers , loaded at specially equipped airports,  drop long lasting retardant used to control, slow and suppress wild fires while ground crews do the close fighting.

The BE200 is being tested for both missions”.  – David Baskett, IES.


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USFS Evaluating Beriev Be-200 Air Tanker in Russia

Friday, April 20, 2012    Taganrog, Russia       Author: Randall Stephens

At the expense of Russia’s Beriev ASTC *, the Interagency Airtanker Board (IAB) is in Taganrog, Russia to evaluate tests of the Beriev, Be-200 amphibious aerial firefighting jet.   From IES CEO, David Baskett today:

The Sea of Azov has thawed, the sun is out and the USFS test preparation work is being done outdoors in good weather with the BE 200 jacked up and on special ramps for the static tests.  Beriev was very well prepared for the arrival of the Phase 1  test team. The team  contains two very professional USFS engineers  who have been involved in testing most of the US Air tankers ranging from the S-2s to the 747 and C 130s plus the Martin Mars.

The test aircraft RF 21512 has been wired and probed and testing should start Monday.  For 3 days we have been reviewing technical documentation with various Beriev department heads to include:

Maintenance, Avionics, Flight test, Fire Fighting systems, Structural testing  ( to include a review of the continuing cycle testing now up more than 13,000 cycles for many items), Design, Engineering, Certification.   

The aircraft manuals continue to add polish and fully conform to JAR (Europe) Part 25 which closely conforms with the FAA (FAR) Part 25“.

*ASTC = Aeronautical Scientific Technical Complex, – a Russian State Enterprise.beriev be-200, air tanker,  water bomber,  jet amphibian, scooper, altair

“Results of the Phase 1 testing will be evaluated May 1st”, according to Adrian Butash, adviser to International Emergency Services, of Santa Maria, CA.  which has plans to import and operate the Be-200 against wildfires in the USA.

The U.S. Forest Service has had a hard time in recent years, with funding and a dwindling supply of aerial firefighting aircraft to support it’s mission.  We can credit current USFS leadership which is now searching far and wide for modern aircraft to help save American lives and property.  If the FAA grants a restricted type certificate and IAB approves the already proven Be-200, the jet powered amphibian could enter the U.S. fleet.

See videos of the Beriev Be-200.                      beriev be-200, air tanker, amphibian, jet, water bomber

Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements and Aerial Firefighting

Given that the United States of America is inhabited by around 300 Million people now marginally protected by only 11 aging and nearly-decrepit Large Air Tankers (LATs) we might want to consider importing foreign, purpose built aircraft to get the aerial firefighting job done.  One should understand from where your next plane can, or is allowed to be imported and how-to’s since Boeing isn’t interested in building a new “Fireplane”.

Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements 

Sometimes a bilateral agreement between States is a Treaty.  Between Texas and Oklahoma, a bilateral agreement is said to have settled the Red River Bridge War.  One Governor supposedly threw a hand grenade while the other side pulled the pin and threw it back.  Rather embarrassing to say the least, albeit not at all true.  Some say the Texas – Oklahoma football game is an annual remembrance and under bilateral agreement, held on neutral territory.

In aviation, a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement* (“BASA”) outlines the criteria for import of aviation products to the USA.  A “BASA” begins with a diplomatic letter from the country of origin, and upon satisfaction of the FAA, approved at the executive level.   Once the BASA is established, it outlines a protocol for approvals and import of foreign civil aviation products.   Approval processes are detailed in an Implementation Agreement.
The BASA is a mere paragraph or more, listing the extent of the agreement for any specific country of origin.  This short statement can and sometimes is amended as developments occur.

To see: Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements per, Search:  AC21-23B.

Politics has played a role in the past.   In the 1970s,  Poland,  Czechoslovakia, and Romania established bilateral aviation safety agreements with the United States of America.  One might like to research the players and motivations involved.  This gave high level diplomats and operatives reasons to meet during those Cold War years, although not much was imported to the USA as a result of the Agreements until the 1990s.

Great Britain,  Brazil,  Germany,  Italy, France and many other nations have rather lengthy descriptions of approved products in their Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements.  The Russian Federation established their agreement with the USA in 1998 when foreign minister Yevgeni Primakov signed along with Madeleine Albright.  At the time it was published as Advisory Circular (AC) 21-23a.

Of late, numerous American companies and several agencies have used Russian aircraft in operations for training in the USA, and field work in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  The USA is currently one of the largest user – operators of Russian aircraft, most common among them being helicopters Mil Mi-8 MTV-1, also known as the Mi-17, as well as Mi-24 and the Ukranian AN-32 multipurpose cargo / passenger aircraft.  The Russia – USA bilateral agreement does not recognize any of these aircraft since the An-32 is from Ukraine which has no bilateral agreement; and, Russian helicopters, engines and avionics are not currently included in AC21-23B.  This could be changed, once Russia’s authorities make application and complete the required verification processes.
Under AC21-23B, the following paragraph explains limitations:
• Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement—Executive Agreement
• Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness
“All metal airplanes up to 9 passengers with a maximum certified take off weight of 12,500 lbs with FAA-certified engines, propellers, and avionics; cargo transport category airplanes with FAA certified engines, propellers, and avionics; and approved metallic materials.”

To date the following aircraft have received FAA Certifications;  IL-96T (Heavy Cargo, 4 x PW2037 engines, Collins Avionics).   IL-103 (Light single engine trainer with IO-360 engine), and Beriev Be-103 (6 place twin engine amphibian with IO-360 engines / MTU propellers).

By contrast,  Brazil’s bilateral agreement is far more developed:
• BAA (replaced)
• Brazil Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement – Executive Agreement
• Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness
“All aeronautical products and certain components. Also recognizes Supplemental Type Certificate and maintenance.”

For a country like China or Russia to sell helicopters, large passenger aircraft, helicopters, engines, avionics, and maintenance services to U.S. companies,  they as exporting nations must have a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement resembling that of Brazil or the United Kingdom.  This can be achieved when the exporting nation demonstrates the political will to support their aviation industry to the extent necessary.

In the case of Aerial Firefighting, there are two types of operators; Government and Civil Airline.  The government agencies such as CalFire or similar public agencies can import and operate virtually any aircraft they wish, within reason.
For a private company to import and operate a Russian helicopter such as the Kamov KA-32A11BC adapted for aerial firefighting, or the Beriev Be-200, a Russian purpose-built jet amphibian designed to fight fires based on modern technologies, there will have to be certifications made, and in some cases exceptions.  For instance, AC-21-23B will have to be amended to include Russian helicopters, engines; and,  Ukrainian “Progress” D-436TP engines powering the Be-200 would have to have a “shadow” certification by FAA.

It should be noted that the Ka-32A11BC helicopter has been certified in Canada, hence “BC” stands for British Columbia.  This amazing helicopter has also been certified in the E.U. and Brazil.

The U.S. wildfire danger claims lives and property annually, and the need for new policy and equipment is urgent.

Russia’s Beriev, Be-200 has been saving lives and property around the globe.  We need new planes in the USA, and one U.S. company – “International Emergency Services” of Santa Maria, CA is working hard to import the Be-200 once IAB certification testing has been completed and the FAA issues a restricted type certificate as did Europe’s E.A.S.A.

Author’s Note:  I have personally inspected the Be-200 at Russia’s Beriev test base in Gelendzhik during “Gidroaviasalon”, and the Moscow Air & Space Show (MAKS).
The Be-200 stands ready to save American lives and property as the most efficient and capable modern aerial firefighting plane in existence.   It was designed to FAR-25 standards, is very impressive and flies like it was designed – as a fighter bomber in the war against wildfire.  As a scooper, the Be-200 can meet current USFS “LAT” requirements and picks up 12,000 pounds of water in 18 seconds.  With jet – power,  Be-200’s dash speed to the fire is unmatched by any other amphibian.

On Policy:   I would like to urge the U.S. Congress to act quickly to support FAA in amending the Russian – American Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (AC211-23B) by adding the following sentence; “All aircraft as equipped, for aerial firefighting as certified by Russia’s aviation authorities and the Interstate Aviation Committee for the purpose of aerial firefighting”.  And repeat the same for Japan’s bilateral agreement if necessary to allow the US-2 “Shinmaywa” a faster approval as well.

– Randall F. Stephens,  A/P

Sukhoi Superjet 100 awarded EASA certificate

In a major milestone, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft’s Superjet 100 has become the first Russian passenger aircraft to be approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The SSJ100 (RRJ-95B) has been awarded the EASA Type Certificate A-176, which recognizes that the aircraft complies with EASA’s airworthiness and environmental requirements. The A-176 certification allows European airlines and carriers operating in countries that abide by EASA regulations may now operate the aircraft in their fleets.sukhoi superjet 100,  SSJ,  EASA certified

Now that Sukhoi’s Superjet 100 has been awarded an EASA certificate, what does this event bode for eventual FAA certification?  The answer will be determined by whether or not Russian authorities decide to expand their bilateral agreement with the USA, to include passenger aircraft.  Currently, work on Russia’s aviation program stopped at cargo aircraft during the late 1990’s.

More recently, the Beriev 200 received a restricted type certificate for it’s designed role as an amphibious aerial firefighter.  Now we see a passenger airliner emerging from the Russian Federation after 20 “lost” years. 

How is a civil certification for a passenger aircraft relevant to Fireplanes and the Aerial Firefighting Industry?

EASA certification of any Russian heavy jet is monumental in terms of breaking paradigm, and setting new expectations.  This is a very important event for Russia.  And for highly competitive airlines, certification of the “Superjet” changes the economics of budget airline operations in the medium haul market.  Who wants to be last to move when a game – changer emerges?   In the USA, where airlines are taking managed bankruptcies on the backs of their employees, one can look at American Airlines as an example of failed management when it comes to strategic planning.    Southwest Airlines is a beehive of activity wherever AA is waning or abandoning markets such as in Austin, Texas.

In Europe, Ryanair has openly considered the Su-100 for it’s budget fare fleet.  Who will be the first to get an edge with less costly aircraft?  And what do these planes cost?  Reportedly the 85-seat SSJ costs $32 Million (USD).   How does the SSJ compare to Western alternatives?  In price, fairly close to the Embraer E170 and E190, albeit less plane and more passenger comfort for the money.   However, one can’t go by third party numbers and web speculations.   The real numbers are known only to the customer,  aircraft builder, and financiers such as Russia’s VneshEconomBank, which finances Russia’s industrial exports.

In short, airline forecasters betting on European airlines can now include efficient competitive alternatives from Russia in their analysis.

In aerial firefighting, will the Beriev Be-200 become a player in American aviation?   The Shinmaywa US2 might, …but might not, – if faced with a superior plane at half the cost.

USFS Seeks Next Generation Air Tankers


Fireplanes is following the U.S. Large Air Tanker crisis and evolving developments.  

The U.S. Forest Service requires turbine powered airtanker services for aerial delivery of retardant in support of fire suppression nationwide. Aircraft must have a minimum acceptable payload of 2400 gallons (target of 3000-5000 gallons) and shall be capable of of a cruise speed of 300 knots (KTAS) with maximum payload.

The intent of the solicitation is to secure a Firm Fixed Price Multi-Year contract(s) not to exceed 10-years (5 year base with 5 one year options) for the daily availability rate. The U.S. Forest Service intends to award seven (7) line items for next generation turbine powered airtankers. Line items 1-3 will begin service in calendar year 2012 and will have a base period of five (5) years with five (5) one year options. Line items 4-7 will begin service in calendar year 2013 and will have a base period of five (5) years with four (4) one year options. The flight rate will be an unknown quantity with no guarantee of flight hours given by the Government.

Details on

Download Solicitation .pdf

Contracting Office Address:
U.S. Forest Service, Contracting
Owyhee Building – MS 1100
3833 S. Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705-5354
United States
Place of Performance:
Nationwide (To Be Determined)
Boise, Idaho 83705
United States
Primary Point of Contact.:
Matthew D. Olson,
Contracting Officer
Phone: 208-387-5835
Fax: 208-387-5384
Secondary Point of Contact:
Elna E. Black,
Procurement Technician
Phone: 208-387-5632
Fax: 208-387-5384

Austin’s Mayor Hosts 2nd Annual Emergency Preparedness Summit Labor Day Wildfire Focus


For immediate release

Feb. 16, 2011

Contact: Candice Wade Cooper, Community Preparedness Manager, (512) 802-1470

Media advisory

Mayor Leffingwell Hosts 2nd Annual Emergency Preparedness Summit

Labor Day Wildfire Focus

Austin, TX – Media is invited to attend and hear from Elected Officials, Emergency Management Coordinators, Wildfire responders, and others on the Central Texas Labor Day Wildfire efforts.

WHO:               Mayor Lee Leffingwell along with Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe and Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald.


WHAT:             2nd Annual Capital Area Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Summit


WHEN:             Friday, Feb. 17, 8:30 –9:30 a.m.  


WHERE:          Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road


WHY:                The purpose of the Summit is to provide updates on the regions current multi-agency/multi-jurisdictional preparedness efforts and discuss the future of regional emergency and disaster preparedness. The Central Texas Labor Day Wildfires will serve as an example of how our region works together.

Note to editors:

Media will get an opportunity to interview attendees, capture b-roll and listen in as Mayor Leffingwell, Judge Biscoe, Judge McDonald and others address the group.

Please find additional information attached.


For more information contact Austin HSEM at (512) 974-0450.


FI – Fireplanes will attend . . .

Employment page added at Fireplanes

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