US firefighting operator Hawkins & Powers Aviation (H&P) is being liquidated, more than three years after fatal accidents involving two of its ex-military aircraft that led to the eventual grounding of large air tankers used for fighting forest fires.

Asset management firm Great American Group has put the company’s fleet of more than 60 aircraft up for sale, including Boeing KC-97s, Consolidated PB4Ys, Fairchild C-119s and Lockheed Martin C-130s. The co-owners of H&P sold the aircraft to Great American after deciding to liquidate the company.

H&P is also seeking a buyer for its manufacturing and refurbishing business at Greybull, Wyoming, where the company is converting US Air Force C-130Hs to firefighting configuration under subcontract to Lear Siegler. The business includes the airport and its fixed-base operation, says H&P president Jim Taggart.

An H&P C-130A crashed in June 2002, killing all three crew, when both wings detached during a fire-retardant drop near Walker, California. A month later, two crew were killed when one of the company’s PB4Ys crashed following separation of the left wing while manoeuvring over a forest fire in Estes Park, Colorado.

In May 2004, the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management terminated contracts for 33 large air tankers because of National Transportation Safety Agency concerns about their airworthiness.

Source: Flight International