Passenger Plane Converted into Fire Fighting Aircraft - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Passenger Plane Converted into Fire Fighting Aircraft

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On Wednesday the Minden Air Corp and U.S. Forest Service were out testing a refurbished passenger plane that could soon  be used to fight fires in Northern Nevada. The entire plane was reconstructed at the Minden-Tahoe Airport.The drill was part of the certification process to approve the BAE-146 Fire Bomber to fight fires.

More than 60 crew members were on hand to measure the amount of fire retardant falling from this newly converted aircraft. The plan can carry more than 3,000 gallons of fire retardant or water on a single fire mission. The U.S. Forest Service recently signed an agreement with Minden Air Corp to use the aircraft once it's certified for use. Forest Service representatives were on scene today to see how accurately the plane can drop fire retardant and fire on a target. "Our intent is to try to make sure that these aircraft deliver the retardant in a way that will benefit the people who are on the ground," said Air Tanker Program Manager, Scott Fisher.

It cost about $8 million for Minden Air Corp to create the program. Right now they are in a contract with the U.S. forestry service to use the aircraft on an as-needed basis. "So when you’re out in the middle of Nevada and there’s a house that’s going to burn down, you want that 3,000 and you want that 350 or 400 miles per hour," said Minden Air Corp CEO, Leonard Parker.

Minden Air Corp is open to more negotiations for groups that would need to use the aircraft. We're told it costs around $10,000 to run the aircraft for an hour and over $20,000 for day use.

Results for today's fire retardant target testing will be analyzed and released in the next few weeks. After the tests are complete the final process if approval for use will come from the  FAA.

Written by Chloe Beardsley


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