Santa Maria may be saying “добро пожаловать” – or “Welcome!” – to a new Russian partnership soon.
“This airplane is remarkable and amazing,” says Director of Santa Maria’s Airport Board, David Baskett. Baskett has been working on negotiations with the Beriev Aircraft Company to begin building the BE-200 planes here in Santa Maria.He says the deal has been changed a few times over the years but now Russia is ready to begin talks about FAA certification.
“No formal application has been made but it’s ready to be made now,” Baskett explains.
This partnership would mean that the BE-200 aircrafts would be built, maintained and operated all by people in Santa Maria, making it extremely convenient during fire season as this aircraft is more streamlined than what the airport has now.
“These planes fight fires by scooping up water out in the ocean or lake – when Lake Cachuma’s got more water in it, it works and putting out the fires and it only takes a few minutes to turn around and go back on the fire,” Baskett tells us.
While some people may be hesitant about a Russian partnership, Baskett, a military veteran himself, believes they will be good partners, telling us: “Their view of things because of geography and history is a little different than ours but – they’ve never declared war on us, other countries have – and they have a great assemblage of highly educated people, highly skilled.”
Baskett says Seaplane Global and its partners, Airbus, and IES which is his air transportation firm based out of Santa Maria – will be meeting again in November in Moscow. They hope to have a deal reached by the end of the year.