No contract renewal for Mars: province

The Hawaii Mars will not have its contract renewed by the province, according to the Ministry of Forests.

The famous Hawaii Mars waterbomber was lowered onto the calm Sproat Lake waters for the first time in 22 months back on July 7

The Hawaii Mars will not have its contract renewed by the province, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

“We appreciate the assistance of the Mars and its crews during this busy fire season,” said MFLNRO public affairs officer Greig Bethel.

“[The] B.C. Wildfire Service has reviewed the anticipated weather over the next while, as well as expected requirements, and doesn’t believe it will need the Mars at this time.”

The province had originally signed a $450,000 30-day deal with the Coulson Group for the use of the Hawaii Mars back on July 8. Each hour flight time also cost the province $11,000 in fuel and flight costs.

The agreement came with the option to extend for another 30 days, which the province has not taken.

Due to health issues of one of the Mars’ flight crew as well as a training contract between Coulson and the International Test Pilot School, the contract was extended till Aug. 25.

“The Hawaii Mars reliability, serviceability and performance for the past 40 days has been perfect and is a testament to our team and the people that worked in the Mars program for the last five decades  achieving excellence in aviation,  firefighting and safety,” said Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson.

“What an honor it is on behalf of our company to serve the Province of B.C. and support the hard working men and women firefighters that tackle the fire line every day.”

Despite having been parked for 22   months, Coulson said that only two days of crew training were needed before the Mars spent 40 days in flight with no issues.

“This is not an outdated unreliable aircraft flying 70 flight hours in 40 days between the province and the Chinese government contract,” said Coulson. Out of the 70 hours, 22 were taken up by the Chinese government contract according to the flight school.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, “the Martin Mars flew for 24 flight hours (including practice) on five missions split between four fires” at an estimated cost of $736,000 to the province.

The remaining 24 hours were not accounted for by the News’ press time.

With B.C. not renewing the Mars’ contract, Coulson is looking down south for more work.

“I have been in contact with the Incident Command team members in Washington state offering the Mars up as a resource,” he said.

“However the aircraft in [the] state have been grounded due to smoke over  the last couple of  days and [so we] will stay in contact.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Kids help Alberni Aquarium build rockfish luminary for next exhibit

Swimming For Change takes over in time for spring break

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Port Alberni council looking at nearly 4% tax increase for 2019

Policing, bridge rehabilitation and impending cruise ship visits all jostling for funding

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

B.C. Speaker Darryl Plecas resumes battle with suspended staff

Committee meets at B.C. legislature to consider new allegations

North BC broken axle derailment could happen again: TSB

CN coal train derailment caused by broken axle can happen again without a different way to inspect

Former B.C. fire chief sues his city after termination

Keith Green’s civil claim says that he believes he was wrongfully terminated

B.C. man injured in police shooting now in wheelchair

“Shots were fired by police and the Kelowna man was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.”

Peter Tork, Monkees’ lovable bass-guitar player, dies at 77

Tork, Micky Dolenz, David Jones and Michael Nesmith formed the made-for-television rock band

From a drunk judge to Clifford Olson: George Garrett recounts a life in B.C. news radio

New book from ‘Intrepid Reporter’ George Garrett offers readers a glimpse behind the headlines

Wife remembers B.C. man killed in possible case of mistaken identity

Rex Gill was in Kamloops working to support his family after oilfield job dried up

Early morning shooting in Courtenay

Reporter at taped-off scene outside apartment complex

Most Read