N.W.T. new scoopers to be operated by Buffalo Airways

Buffalo P3 Joe McBryan
File photo: Ronald Guy (left) of United Aeronautical congratulates Joe McBryan (right) of Buffalo Airways, March 19, 2014 at McClellan Air Force Base March 19, 2014. Buffalo Airways had just purchased Tanker 22. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Northwest Territories has awarded a contract to Buffalo Airways to operate their eight new Air Tractor 802F FireBoss single engine air tankers. The government of the NWT inherited six CL-215 piston-powered scooper air tankers. They are being replaced by the FireBoss scoopers at a cost of about $26 million. Buffalo Airways scored a five-year contract to operate the new turbine-powered SEATs.

This seems be a trend. In 2015 the state of Minnesota sold their two CL-215s and replaced them with four FireBoss SEATs.

Air Tractor 802-F FireBoss
Air Tractor 802F FireBoss. NWT photo.

The FireBoss is amphibious, able to take off from a runway and land or scoop water on a lake.

Buffalo Airways previously operated the CL-215s for NWT. In their own fleet the company has eight air tankers: a Lockheed Electra, three Douglas DC-4s, and four CL-215s. As far as we know they have not yet starting operating the P3 they bought in 2014 as an air tanker. The last we heard it was receiving some maintenance in Florida.

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2 thoughts on “N.W.T. new scoopers to be operated by Buffalo Airways”

  1. Good Afternoon Bill,
    Clarification on the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) inheritance on six CL-215 piston-powered scooper air tankers in 1969. Actually, there are a total of four (not six) CL-215’s which were first inherited in 1985 with 2 CL-215 series V then again in 1986 when a second an additional 2 CL-215 series V aircraft were inherited to the GNWT. There are 2 Skimmer Groups in NT where Group 1 (2 CL-215’s) is positioned in Fort Smith, NT and Group 2 (CL-215’s) positioned in Yellowknife, NT.

    1. “North”

      I obtained my information from the website for the Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources which states, as you did, that they currently have two air tanker groups of two CL-215s each, in addition to two other groups each with one lockheed Electra L-188.

      The website also says:

      Currently, the GNWT owns six Canadair CL-215 skimmer air tanker aircraft.

      The site does not explain if two of the six CL-215s are non-operational, or if they are used as spares.

      CBC News had this in a December 2 article:

      This is the first time the government has replaced its air tankers. It inherited the fleet of Canadair C-215s, which were introduced in 1969, from the federal government for $1.

      By “introduced”, they may have been referring to the year that model of aircraft first rolled out, rather than when they were introduced to the Government of Canada and later “sold” to the NWT.

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