USA — All eight Aero Union P-3s have had their airworthiness certs pulled as of last night. This is huge, considering the eight P-3s make up the bulk of the nation’s federal heavy air tanker fleet (the VLATs don’t count)… not to mention the fact that they are among the MOST airworthy aircraft anywhere, let alone in firefighting. Word is this mess is a paperwork snafu caused by mismanagement at the company. I’d prefer to reserve judgement since I have a lot of respect for Aero Union… safe to say either way there are a lot of people hoping this can be resolved, and QUICK. A grounding like this brought Hawkins & Powers to their end in the 90s, after they had lost a C-130A and PB4Y-2 in accidents.
Hopefully this can be ironed out, fast. The fire season is rapidly approaching, and is already in progress in areas like Texas and New Mexico, where several of the P-3s are currently at work. They have a 3 day temporary ferry permit to immediately return all aircraft home to Sacramento.