Forest Service reposts contract for firefighting planes after protests
Written byROB CHANEY, The Missoulian
U.S. Forest Service officials decided to repost a contract request for next-generation firefighting planes, after losing bidders protested the initial $261 million award.
That means Missoula-based Neptune Aviation and three other air tanker operators must refile their proposals for jet-powered aircraft to replace Korean War-vintage P2V tankers. Neptune has already put two BAe-146 jets in service this year on interim contracts, and hoped to add several more under the new arrangement.
As originally awarded to Neptune, the five-year contract would have modernized the private fleet of large air tankers that drop retardant slurry on forest fires. Safety concerns reduced the available planes from 44 in 2002 to 10 this year. Nine of those belong to Neptune: two BAe-146s and seven P2Vs.VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE