Air Force Military Police watch as a Russian Beriev Be-200 amphibious plane carrying a search and rescue team arrives to help in the search and recovery of Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan January 3, 2015.
Ships searching for the wreck of the AirAsia passenger jet that crashed with 162 people on board have pinpointed two “big objects” on the sea floor, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said on Saturday (source : trust.org).
The Beriev Be-200 Altair (Russian: Бериев Бе-200) is a multipurpose amphibious aircraft designed by the Beriev Aircraft Company and manufactured by Irkut. Marketed as being designed for fire fighting, search and rescue, maritime patrol, cargo, and passenger transportation, it has a capacity of 12 tonnes (12,000 litres, 3,170 US gallons) of water, or up to 72 passengers (source : wikipedia).
The first documented operational use of the Be-200 was from 20 August till 30 September 2004. For this period a Be-200ES was operated from Sardinia (Italy) by SOREM, the official operator of fire-fighting equipment of Italian Civil Defense Department (Protezione Civile).
The aircraft, flown by joint Russian-Italian flight crew performed more than 100 flights with about 90 hours flown. During seven hours of operational flights, the aircraft participated in the extinguishing of four forest fires and dropped 324 tons of water.
The partnership was renewed in 2005, with Be-200ES (Reg. RF-21512) based at Sardinia between July and September. The aircraft flew 150 hours covering 63 missions, including ferry flights, and 435 scoops and drops of water, the total mass of which exceeded 3,175 tonnes (3,500 tons).
In 2006 RF-21512 was leased by the Portuguese Fire Fighting Services (SNBPC – Serviço Nacional de Bombeiros e Protecção Civil) for evaluation during the forest fire season. On 6 July 2006, the Russian crew of the Be-200 leased by Portugal were carrying out a water pick-up from the Aguieira dam near Santa Comba Dão, when on climbing away they clipped treetops and at least one of the Progress D-436TP engines suffered ingestion damage and had to be shut down.
The aircraft recovered safely to land atMonte Real air force base, from which it had been operating. After repairs, the aircraft completed the season in Portugal. In total, 42 flights were performed during operations in Portugal, with a total flying time of 119 hours. The aircraft performed 301 water scooping operations and dropped 2,167 tonnes (2,389 tons) of water on fires.
In October 2006, two Be-200ES (RF-32765 and RF-32768) were leased to Indonesia by EMERCOM, fighting fires for 45 days. This reportedly cost Indonesia around US$5.2 million. These operations prompted press reports that the Indonesian government had agreed to purchase two Be-200s, each with a projected price of US$40 million. Beriev, however has not confirmed these reports.
Such was the success of the first campaign that two Be-200ES were again leased by Portugal from July 10 to September 30, 2007. During this period 58 fire-fighting flights were conducted with a total flying time of over 167 hours. 2,322 tonnes (2,560 tons) of water was dropped.
Beriev claims that representatives of the newly formed Portuguese government enterprise EMA (Empresa de Meios Aéreos) have expressed their interest in a long-term cooperation with Beriev and the Be-200 in Portugal.
Two Be-200ES also operated in Greece, RF-32768 fighting the 2007 forest fires for the whole season and RF-21512 from August 30 to September 13.
In April 2008, Azerbaijan became the first foreign customer for the Be-200, purchasing one Be-200ES from Russia. The aircraft (reg. FHN-10201 ex RF-32769) will be operated by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Emergencies and can be operated as a fire-fighting, cargo and 43-seater passenger aircraft.
In July/August 2010 it was used in Russia during the wildfires that spread across the country.
In early December 2010, two Be-200ES aircraft were used to fight the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire near Haifa, Israel.
In Serbia one Be-200 belonging to Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations is stationed in summer on Niš Constantine the Great Airport. Aircraft has already operational history in 2012 and 2013.