Port-Alberni based Coulson Aviation Group is getting a big lift from the federal government as it continues with groundbreaking work to transform Boeing 737’s into firefighting aircraft.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement Carla Qualtrough announced a repayable investment of nearly $3.4 million on Thursday in Port Alberni.
“As a world leader in aerial firefighting, Coulson is a testament to the kind of quality work that this region is capable of—and the quality talent that is right here in British Columbia,” said Qualtrough.
“The development of this innovative technology will better protect our forests from wildfire damage and increase efficiency by providing the ability to deliver both fire retardant and fire-fighting personnel at the same time.”
The funding supports Coulson’s first-of-its-kind research and development initiative to convert a Boeing 737 plane into a dual-purpose aerial firefighting tanker/passenger aircraft called the FireLiner that can be used to fight fires in Canada and elsewhere.
The investment is being made through the Strategic Innovation Fund.
“This investment has been instrumental in our company’s conversion of airliners into tankers for fighting fires as well as carrying passengers,” said Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson.
“Extensive aircraft modifications took place here at the Port Alberni airport, involving 140,000 hours of work in the community. We are proud that the newly completed air tankers will begin fighting forest fires globally this fall and that we are currently converting another airliner.”