Forest Service to Add Firefighting Planes

If business protest doesn't derail plans

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The Forest Service has announced plans to nearly double the size of its fleet of firefighting tanker planes over the next five years—if a dispute with a company doesn’t hold them up.

According to The Gazette, the agency would award $158 million in contracts for seven new tankers to supplement the eight planes of its “legacy” fleet, many of which date back to the Korean War. The new tankers would be turbine-powered and would have to be capable of cruising at speeds upward of 345 miles per hour with a load of at least 3,000 gallons.

However, one tanker company that was not awarded a contract, Neptune Aviation, said that it planned to appeal the agency’s decision. “First of all, we understand that there is a need to protect lives and property,” said Dan Snyder, Neptune’s COO. “But we also have to support an organization.” Should the company file a protest, the Government Accountability Office would have to rule on it within 100 days.

The Forest Service originally planned to add seven tankers last year, but a similar protest by two other companies scuttled its plans.

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