Saturday, June 11, 2016

Familiar Aero Union planes back in Chico, but not to fight fires



Chico >> It’s almost deja vu, with big orange-and-white aerial firefighting planes parked near old Aero Union buildings at the Chico Municipal Airport.

While many would like to see the days return when those planes flew from here to fight fires, that’s not what this is.

The tankers are parked at the airport for storage and are for sale. They are owned by United Aeronautical Corp. of North Hollywood, according to Debbie Collins, who handles airport business for the city.

How the five planes came to be stored at the airport is a question for United Aeronautical, which didn’t respond to inquiries by deadline.

Aero Union was a major employer at the airport, with more than 200 workers. It primarily transformed former military aircraft into retardant-carrying tankers, which were sold to other countries or leased to the U.S. Forest Service.

According to FireAviation.com, the planes were acquired after Aero Union moved to Sacramento, filed for bankruptcy, and banker Comercia took over assets.

United Aeronautical reportedly purchased eight P-3 tankers, which were stored at the former air force base, McClellan Field, in Sacramento.

Aero Union moved its operation from Chico to Sacramento in 2011 after it was purchased by investors from the Seattle area in 2005. It filed for bankruptcy after the Forest Service cancelled its firefighting contract for plane safety concerns.

According to FireAviation.com, United Aeronautical purchased the planes in 2013.

United Aeronautical is paying a storage fee for keeping the tankers at the airport, Collins said.

United Aeronautical is described as a company that specializes in spare parts for aircraft.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.orovillemr.com

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