Coulson Aviation receives $3.4 million for FireLiner air tankers

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

Comedy show in Port Alberni raises funds for local charity

The Human Condition Comedy Tour will be at the Rainbow Room on Sept. 19

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to hear feedback on cannabis production

Bylaw amendment could limit cannabis production in the district

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs pick up first win of the season on home ice

Bannister, Bosse play the heroes in ‘close’ game with Nanaimo

UPDATE: UVic students killed in Bamfield bus crash were from Winnipeg, Iowa City

RCMP also said a second vehicle was in the area at the time of the collision

Port Alberni’s 35th Toy Run draws 420 riders

Gloomy weather didn’t dampen spirits

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

University of Victoria student Emma Machado, 18, was killed in the bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Largest driving factor is the province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees, expert says

20 day search for missing Labradoodle in Princeton, B.C. ends with tears of joy

The search brought out bloodhounds, and groups hoping to find Mordy

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

Nanaimo ferry an hour and a half behind schedule after medical emergency

Queen of Oak Bay was delayed at Departure Bay this afternoon

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

Most Read