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

Final bell could sound for project that allows Victoria grads to dress in style

Magic Wand must find space to store its prom attire for Greater Victoria students by end of June

Man accused of Brentwood Bay murder appears in court

Alan Chapman tells judge he wants next court appearance to be “as far away as possible”

Victoria police hand out Civic Service Awards

June 24 awards include recognition for help on days-long fire, cannabis robbery, volunteer service

Emergency crews at scene of accident at Sooke’s Camp Bernard

First responders are on the scene of an accident at Camp Bernard,… Continue reading

Langford has ‘no plans’ to make changes to Western Speedway after noise complaints

Flyer passed out to residents voices concerns over racetrack noise

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. man faces deportation over father’s honour-killing conviction

Father lied to immigration, was later acquitted of charges in Jassi Sidhu’s murder

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Girl, 10, poisoned by carbon monoxide at B.C. campsite could soon return home

Lucille Beaurain died and daughter Micaela Walton, 10, was rushed to B.C. Children’s Hospital on May 18

30 years later: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

Vancouver woman didn’t think her powerful story, written in chalk, would ignite such support

Slain friend motivates rookie football player to make it with hometown B.C. Lions

Jaylen Sandhu, stabbed to death in 2014, a source of inspiration for promising RB Jamel Lyles

Sooke council urged to move faster on off-leash dog park plan

Resident questions why five of seven restricted parks are in Sooke

Most Read