Coulson passed over for B.C. firefighting contract

The Hawaii Mars was out on the Sproat Lake waters for the first time since 2013 on July 7, 2015 - KATYA SLEPIAN/ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS
The Hawaii Mars was out on the Sproat Lake waters for the first time since 2013 on July 7, 2015

Coulson Aviation's planes will not be dousing B.C. fires this summer, according to the Coulson Group.

In a post to their Facebook page, the aviation company stated that both the Hawaii Mars and the C-130 Hercules were passed over for the provincial firefighting contract. Instead, Abbotsford-based Conair Group's next-generation RJ85 air-tanker will join the fleet.

"The next-generation RJ85 will supplement B.C.’s current fleet of air-tankers on a pilot basis this summer. The addition of the aircraft ahead of the 2016 wildfire season will allow the BC Wildfire Service to evaluate its cost and effectiveness and help inform future procurement decisions," a provincial press release reads.

The RJ85 is a land-based jet aircraft converted by Conair to function as an air-tanker. The province said that the B.C.-developed retardant delivery system is "considered to be one of the most advanced systems in the world."

Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson said that he did not receive a reason as to why the province turned down his C-130s despite their higher tank capacity.

"I have no idea why the province went with Conair," Coulson said.

As far as the Hawaii Mars, Coulson said the waterbomber's firefighting days were likely coming to an end.

"We have been in every board room trying to sell the Mars' services in firefighting and don't see an option any longer for the Mars in this business," said Coulson.

"We will look to see who might be interested in operating the aircraft going forward or where it could be retired and looked after."

The province could not be reached for comment.


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