On June 18, 2019 Conair delivered the first of six Dash 8-Q400MR air tankers to the Sécurité Civile base at Nimes-Garons in France. On the long ferry flight from British Columbia it made at least three stops — Iqaluit on Baffin Island in Canada, Reykjavic in Iceland, and Jersey, an island off the northwest coast of France. It may have stopped one more time between BC and Iqaluit.
Sécurité Civile placed the order for the six air tankers with Conair who purchased them from Bombardier. Conair is converting them into multi-role aircraft capable of transporting passengers and dropping fire retardant, water, or foam.
Initially the aircraft will be handled by the Direction Générale de l’Armement for acceptance procedures prior to beginning active duty. It is expected to make an appearance over Paris at the Bastille Day parade July 14.
The Q400 MR can carry up to 10,000 liters (2,600 gallons) of water or retardant. The “MR” stands for multirole, meaning the aircraft can be converted in a few hours to carry passengers or cargo. It can cruise at 372 mph and has a range of 1,118 miles. The aircraft is equipped with the AN Enhanced Flight Vision System, providing an image in the visible or infrared spectrum.
In a medevac configuration it can accommodate six stretchers along with the necessary nurses stations and life support equipment, or it can transport 9 tons of cargo.
For several years Sécurité Civile had been pondering what to do about replacing their nine S-2s that are approaching their structural life limit of 25,000 hours, according to the agency. Their plans announced in 2016 were to retire the S-2s between 2018 and 2022 which would require a two-year extension of the type certificate. The goal was to acquire aircraft that could carry more water or retardant, would reduce operating costs, and would be multi-role.
In addition to the nine S-2s and two Q-400s, France also has twelve CL-415s and 40 helicopters.