Feds kick in $3.4 million for Island-built firefighting planes

Coulson Aviation’s new 737 FireLiner the first of its kind in aerial firefighting industry

A Vancouver Island aviation company has received a $3.4 million investment from the federal government for its ambitious work in the aerial firefighting industry.

Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, was at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport (AVRA) on Thursday, Oct. 11 to announce this repayable investment in Coulson Aviation through the Strategic Innovation Fund. The family-owned aviation company, based in Port Alberni, has been working on converting six Boeing 737 passenger airplanes into dual-purpose aerial firefighting tankers and passenger aircraft. The FireLiners include a 4,000-gallon capacity for water or retardant and 66 seats for moving fire personnel.

READ: Coulson Aviation’s first 737 jets arrive in Port Alberni

This project, said Qualtrough, is putting Canada at the forefront of the aerial firefighting industry.

“Port Albern is at the centre of Canada’s forest industry,” she said on Thursday. “With forests come the risk of forest fire. That means that Coulson is geographically well-situated to design, develop and manufacture the aerial firefighting technology of the future.”

Wayne Coulson, president and CEO, introduced the first FireLiner of the fleet on Thursday. The new aircraft finished all of its flight-testing in the U.S. and will be in Australia within a week, where it has picked up a five-year contract. It will be the first 737 ever used in fire suppression.

“This has never been done before,” said Qualtrough. “This innovative project will solve a real problem and increase efficiency by providing the ability to deliver both fire retardant and firefighting personnel at the same time.”

Coulson said the eventual goal is to have the crafts fighting fires in British Columbia.

“Hopefully at some point in time, we’d like to get them back here at home in B.C.,” he said.

This new investment by the federal government, said Qualtrough, will create up to 15 new jobs, while maintaining 73 more in Port Alberni. Coulson Aviation will also continue to partner with post-secondary institutions for the “local development of skilled aerospace workers.”

Coulson thanked the City of Port Alberni and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District for their support on Thursday. It is because of the region’s airport, which reopened last year after an $8 million expansion, that the 737s were able to land on the new runway.

Mayor Mike Ruttan said on Thursday that this is exactly what the region was hoping for in its new airport when the expansion was announced.

“This couldn’t have happened without all of us working together,” he added.

PROGRESS 2017: Expanded airport means economic growth in Port Alberni

Although Coulson Group of Companies also operates the famed Martin Mars air tankers—the largest water bombers in the world—Coulson chose not to speak to the Mars bombers on Thursday.

READ: Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are past: Coulson

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

 

Just Posted

Bed Races on Beacon champs ready to defend their title

Race takes place July 7 on Beacon Avenue, raising funds for the Peninsula Youth Clinic

Light wind sends half of Swiftsure yacht fleet back to shore early

Many racers return overnight in unusual race conditions

Radio Host Erin Davis pens Mourning Has Broken following death of her daughter

Book by North Saanich woman gives advice to others struggling with grief

Leaving dog in hot car can result in $75,000 fine, prohibition from owning animals, prison

B.C. SPCA received 800 calls last year about dogs left in hot cars

Sidney Museum’s Chief Dan George exhibition sees surge of interest

Four mayors, federal Green leader, Tsartlip reps to attend June 21 opening ceremony

WATCH: Thousands enjoy sunshine at second annual Village Block Party

Cook Street filled with local food, music and more

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read