Prince Edward Island, Canada-based Tronos has converted a BAe 146 into an aerial firefighting tanker, that is now being used on wildfires in Texas by Neptune Aviation Services.

The four-engine aircraft is equipped with a 11,375 litre (3,005USgal) tank under the centre fuselage to carry water or fire retardant, that is gravity-dropped through doors.

Tronos operates a fleet of 20 BAe 146s, leased for speciality services to airlines and other operators. The US Forest Service approved the tanker conversion for firefighting applications after field tests in Missoula, Montana this summer, Tronos said.

"The Forestry Service last approved a new large air tanker capable of carrying 3,000 gallons of retardant in the mid-1980s, when the P-3 Orion was first used in firefighting operations," said Tronos. "Demand for new aircraft is expected to be strong in the face of the increased incidence of major fires, as the aging fleet of air tankers is retired."

The company said it intends to convert more BAe 146s into the firefighting role for Neptune.

Source: Flight International