Perimeter

Conair tests converted air tanker, still wearing Flybe livery

Posted on Categories Fixed wingTags , ,

It will later be painted in Conair colors, and is one of eleven Q400’s being converted into air tankers

Conair-Flybe air tanker
One of the Q400’s recently purchased by Conair was photographed being tested with its new retardant delivery system, while still wearing Flybe livery. C-FFQG is the new registration. Photo by Kyle Clarkson.

Conair is moving swiftly in their efforts to convert the 11 Q400 aircraft recently purchased from Flybe Airlines. One of the ships was recently photographed by Kyle Clarkson as it made a test water drop with the retardant delivery system added to the belly of the aircraft. Notably, it was still sporting Flybe livery, resulting in a very unusual sight.

The first Flybe Q400 was delivered at Conair facilities in Abbotsford, British Columbia, February 21, 2021. After being converted to air tankers, called A400ATs (Air Tanker), they will eventually replace the L-188’s and CV-580’s currently operated by Conair.

The repurposed aircraft are being converted at Conair’s facilities in Abbotsford and will be capable of holding up to 2,640 gallons of retardant.

In 2017 the Conair Group secured a deal to sell six Q400MR (Multi-Role) air tankers to France’s Securite Civile (Department of Civil Defense and Emergency Preparedness). These were new aircraft that Conair purchased from Bombardier which can be reconfigured in a few hours to carry passengers, hence the Multi-Role designation. The new aircraft are replacing France’s old S-2 air tankers.

Before purchasing the 11 Q400’s from Flybe, Conair had two A400ATs operational within their fleet that will be used this year for the first time in the North American fire season. They had one under contract in Australia during the 2020-2021 bushfire season.

Dustin Littler, Aircraft Conversion Manager at Conair, said, “It takes a solid eight weeks to install the tank, fairings, and perform avionics modifications, plus another two weeks to reassemble the cockpit, and perform operational tests, ground runs, and test flights.”

It is impressive how quickly companies like Conair and Coulson can convert a C-130 or Q400 into an air tanker. Meanwhile, the Air Force has been dragging their feet for almost eight years after being ordered by Congress to convert seven HC-130H aircraft into air tankers. The last we heard, none of the seven, which will be operated by CAL FIRE, are complete. The aircraft were originally going to the U.S. Forest Service, but the agency lost interest.

first Flybe Q400 arrives at Conair
The first Flybe Q400 arrives at Conair facilities in Abbotsford, British Columbia, February 21, 2021. It will replace one of the L-188 or CV-580 air tankers in the background. Conair photo.
converting Q400 into air tanker firefighting
Converting a Flybe airliner into an air tanker. Conair photo by Vaughn Leflar and Jeff Bough.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Rick.

Typos, let us know HERE. And, please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

3 thoughts on “Conair tests converted air tanker, still wearing Flybe livery”

  1. “It takes a solid eight weeks to install the tank, fairings, and perform avionics modifications, plus another two weeks to reassemble the cockpit, and perform operational tests, ground runs, and test flights.”

    Ten weeks total sounds remarkably quick to me. I guess it just goes to show you the difference between private industry and the government agencies involved in getting CalFire’s C-130s in to the fight. Especially in a fire season like what California will be facing this year.

  2. Helps when your company’s are subsidized by the Canadian government .
    Coulson and Conair, still wonder why we send our money to Canada when we should support US company’s. Our government needs to make the playing field equal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *