Full contracts helping Neptune Aviation cycle firefighting tanke - KXLF.com | Continuous News | Butte, Montana

Full contracts helping Montana company cycle firefighting tankers

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Neptune planes have already logged 1,000 hours in the air this year. (MTN News photo) Neptune planes have already logged 1,000 hours in the air this year. (MTN News photo)

Neptune Aviation firefighting tankers have logged more than double the number of flying hours this year compared with last summer.

But the CEO of the Missoula-based company says having all twelve of the company's aircraft under U.S. Forest Service contract means they have exactly the right number of planes to  meet the demand -- and still take care of maintenance.

The company's "P2V" prop tankers, and "next gen" jets have already flown more than 1,000 hours, starting with the first firefighting assignments in the Southeast US back in February. 

But for the first time, Neptune has all 12 of its planes under contract. He says that helps the US Forest Service have more tools in the field, but also gives Neptune enough tankers to cycle through maintenance to keep up with the busy schedule.

"We are. You know, three or four years ago we had six contracts for the P2s and the jets weren't flying. So this year we've got six of the jets and six of the P2s under contract," Neptune Aviation CEO Ron Hooper said. "They're all out very busy. And we've got two of each as our maintenance aircraft. We can cycle the aircraft in and out as maintenance is required."  

Those US Forest Service contracts run for five years, with the agency having options for five additional years. 

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