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country announced plans to drastically expand its navy,
including its naval air component, and is still looking to
buy the Be-200, among other aircra .
A number of European countries have evaluated the Be-
200 for the re ghting role and are measuring it against
its smaller competitor, the Bombardier 415.
Between August and September 2004 and then
again between July and September 2005 the Italian
Protezione Civile (Department of Civil Protection)
leased the Be-200 as part of its evaluation process and
found the aircra to be m ore e cient than its Canadian
rival, as well as being more manoeuvrable thanks to its
y-by-wire system. e Be-200 can drop twice the water
load of the Bombardier 415 and has double its cruising
speed, allowing it to reach res much faster. It also has a
longer range, allowing it to spend more time on station.
Following satisfactory testing , Italy is exploring the
possibility of buying four Be-200s.
Portugal has expressed interest in buying the Be-
200 for re ghting and to this end leased a single
Altair between July and August 2006. e aircra
was in almost daily use and performed well in the hot,
mountainous conditions -- so well that Portuguese
authorities even lengthened the Be-200's stay by a
couple of weeks.
However, the evaluation was marred by one ight
when the pilots misjudged their altitude and clipped
some trees. ey were forced to dump fuel, which
worsened the res they were trying to extinguish. Still,
Beriev was back in Portugal in 2007, this time with two
aircra being deployed between July and September.
Again the Be-200 performed well, and even saved
a UNESCO World Heritage Site from going up in
ames. Portugal is mulling the purchase of two Be-200s.
e 2007 re season was one of the worst on record
and in Greece resulted in around 65 deaths and the
destruction of more than 110 villages. e Greek
government was forced to request international
assistance to combat the res. Russia responded by
sending two Be-200s as well as several re ghting
helicopters, which were heavily used during the
summer. e country is considering buying six Be-
200s and if the deal goes ahead, Hellenic Aerospace
Industry will partner with Irkut on manufacturing and
e Be-200 has also been evaluated by Indonesia,
which leased two Altairs from Russia's emergencies
ministry in October 2006. ey were used to ght
disastrous res on the islands of Kalimantan and
Sumatra over a six-week period. The Indonesian
government is now eager to buy two Be-200s for future
re ghting missions.
Beriev is currently eying potentially large markets in
North and South America and in March-April this
year took the Altair on an American demonstration
tour. e aircra arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, on
24 March, a er ying across the Urals and Siberia. It
then proceeded to the FIDAE-2010 aerospace expo in
Chile, where it was displayed on 27 March.
After FIDAE-2010 the Be-200 began a
demonstration tour in Latin American countries,
including Brazil and Venezuela. Whilst on a
demonstration ight in Venezuela it was diverted to
put out one of the many forest res currently ravaging
the drought-a icted country. Venezuela is interested
in procuring the Altair and is considering the purchase
of two aircra , along with billions of dollars of other
hardware from Russia.
e Be-200's next stop was the United States, a
potentially large market for the Altair -- at one stage the
Air National Guard was exploring the option of buying
the aircra to replace its ageing eet of air tankers.
Landing at Santa Maria Public Airport on 7 April, the
Be-200 began its week-long stay in the USA. e visit
to Santa Maria was organised by TTE International,
which may acquire ten Be-200s that would be leased
out to operators during California's re season.
In October 2008, Beriev estimated a potential
European market for 49 Be-200s in the re ghting
configuration, hoping to cut into Bombardier's
dominance of the European market. A relatively high
proportion of Europe's Bombardier CL-215 and 415
eets are lost to attrition every year, leaving a gap for
the Russian aircra .
Considering that the Be-200 is unique in terms
of payload, speed and overall performance, it should
do well now that European certi cation has been
achieved. e Altair looks set to begin making waves
in the world amphibian market. ●
AsianAviation | MAY 2010 43
Interest in the Be-200 has come from markets including
Australia, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. Credit: Beriev
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