A Q400 air tanker will be based in Australia this summer

Air Tanker 141, C-FFQEQ, Q400
T-141 (C-FFQEQ) Q400AT. At Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. Photo Credit Brendon Sutton

A De Havilland Canada Dash 8 Q400AT is on contract in Queensland, Australia during the 2020/2021 summer bushfire season. This is the first time the state has had regular access to a large air tanker, rather than borrowing from New South Wales or Victoria. Provided by Conair, Tanker 141/Bomber 141 (C-FFQE) arrived in Bundaberg in August after departing from Abbotsford British Columbia and making fuel stops at Oakland, Honolulu, Majuro (Marshall Islands), Honiara (Solomon Islands), and Brisbane where it cleared customs. There is a possibility the contract which started September 1 could be extended for an additional four years during the bushfire seasons.

Air Tanker 141, C-FFQEQ, Q400 refuel Marshall Islands
Air Tanker 141, (C-FFQEQ) Q400AT – Landing in Marshall Islands en route to Queensland – Photo Credit Brendon Sutton.

Conair, working with the Australian company Field Air, will have two other large air tankers on contract in Australia, both RJ 85s, beginning October 1 in New South Wales and early December in Victoria.

In 2017 the Conair Group secured a deal to sell six Q400 Multi-Role aircraft converted to air tankers to France’s Securite Civile (Department of Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness), two of which have been delivered. These are new aircraft that Conair purchased from Bombardier which can be converted in a few hours to carry passengers.

Besides the six that will be going to France, Conair has two Q400s, including the one in Australia. The company is working with North American agencies to hopefully see at least two of the  Q400AT’s begin contracts next year. The aircraft were previously owned and are not the Multi-Role models.

Jeff Berry, Manager of Business Development at Conair, said the aircraft, “[A]re pure air tanker STC [supplemental type certificate], so we don’t have any of the residual plumbing, wiring, attachment points inside, or heavy duty flooring that you need for an MR, so it’s stripped down to be a pure tanker. And it gives us the maximum fuel load and the maximum retardant tank capacity. You get the full 10,000 liters [2,642 gallons]. The Q400AT is truly a ‘Green’ airtanker — it is incredibly fuel efficient burning only 58 percent of the fuel per hour while carrying 85 percent of the load of a typical type 1 airtanker.”

“It can operate off a 5,000-foot runway,” Mr. Berry said. “It gives them a lot of flexibility to utilize more of the existing tanker base infrastructure that is in place that may or may not be available for some of the large or very large air tankers.”

Air Tanker 141, C-FFQEQ, Q400
T-141 (C-FFQEQ) Q400AT – Refueling at Majuro, Marshall Islands. Photo Credit Brendon Sutton.

Queensland had an extraordinarily busy 2018/2019 bushfire season. Wildfire Today covered some of the fires that year.

map wildfires in Queensland, Australia
Satellite photo showing smoke from wildfires in Queensland, Australia November 29, 2018. NASA
Map Bundaberg, Queensland
Map showing location of Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia
Air Tanker 141, C-FFQEQ, Q400
T-141 (C-FFQEQ) Q400AT – Photo Credit Jeff Bough.

Q400 air tanker hauls COVID-19 medical supplies

Q400 air tanker multi-role France
Caption from Instagram: “Yesterday carrying #medicalteam with lot of material between Bordeaux, Nancy and Strasbourg- Participating in the national effort against #Covid-19 – For the crew: Two #pilots and two #cabincrew it mean follow precise procedures and be very vigilant…in other words: Stay #professionnal – We want also to mention Our deepest respect and gratitude to the #caregivers #medecins #infirmiers #aidesoignants 🙏🙏🙏 #securitecivile #waterbomber”

The Instagram account for France’s Sécurité Civile recently posted these photos. Above, a Q400 multi-role air tanker is being loaded with personnel and medical supplies for a COVID-19 mission.

Below, a Q400 is seen with two scooping air tankers, CL-415s.

Q400 air tanker multi-role France
Caption from Instagram: “Milan76 ready for…training today!”

A fourth Q400MR delivered to Sécurité Civile

Q400 MR air tanker Sécurité Civile
The fourth Q400 MR arrived at the Sécurité Civile base at Nimes-Garons in France on February 2, 2020. Sécurité Civile photo.

Another Dash 8-Q400 MR air tanker has been delivered to Sécurité Civile in France.

This is the fourth Q400 in the agency’s fleet and the second of six Q400 MR aircraft that the agency is in the process of acquiring from Conair, which purchased the planes from the manufacturer, Bombardier. Conair converted them into multi-role aircraft capable of transporting passengers and dropping fire retardant, water, or foam.

Tanker 76 departed from Abbotsford, British Columbia on January 31. Before reaching its final destination at Nimes-Garons in France on February 2 it made stops at Thunder Bay, Goose Bay, and Iceland.

Tanker 76's transcontinental flight
The last leg of Tanker 76’s transcontinental flight on February 2, 2020. FlightAware.

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.

The article was edited on Feb. 19, 2020 to show that this newest aircraft is not the fourth Q400 delivered on the current agreement with Conair, it is the fourth Q400 in the agency’s fleet, and the second of six being purchased from Conair.

First of six Q400 air tankers delivered to France

Q400MR air tanker delivery France Iqaluit
Air Tanker 74, a Q400MR, stopped at Iqaluit on Baffin Island in Canada June 17, 2019 on the way to delivery in France. Photo by @tattuinee.

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.

Q400MR air tanker delivery France
The last leg, Jersey to Nimes, of Tanker 75’s ferry across the Atlantic from B.C. to Southern France.

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.

Q400MR dropping retardant
File photo of a Q400MR dropping retardant. Conair photo.

Viking teases development of CL-515

A video released last week touts a new model of an amphibious scooping air tanker

The proposed design for the new CL-515, according to the Viking promo video released December 20, 2018

On December 20, Viking Air released a video that describes in detail a new model of the scooping air tanker that could succeed the CL-415. The new CL-515, if it is ever built, is supposed to have a 15 percent larger tank holding up to 1,850 gallons (7,000 liters), and the ability to be outfitted with agriculture spraying equipment or carry up to 12 passengers or three stretchers. Other optional equipment could include a larger cargo door, video cameras, and search radar.

We asked a spokesperson for Viking if the description of the CL-515 in the video meant it would be produced, and if so when, we were told, “No official announcement made yet. The 515 video is a promotional tool for the time being to generate interest in the potential production aircraft.” The spokesperson declined to give us a date.

In March, 2018 at the Aerial Firefighting Conference at McClellan Sacramento Airport, Viking’s director of Special Projects, Sales, and Marketing, Christian Bergeron, told us the company was currently gathering information from potential customers about what they would like to see on a new version of the CL-415. Mr. Bergeron said they expected to decide by the third quarter of 2018 if they would proceed with the project, which would be named CL-515.

Executive vice-president of sales and marketing for Viking, Robert Mauracher, told Flight Global in October, “We expect board approval for go or no-go [about building the CL-515] by the end of the first quarter next year”.

Bombardier stopped production of the CL-415 in 2015. The next year Viking acquired the worldwide amphibious aircraft program from Bombardier including the Type Certificates (manufacturing rights) for all variants of Bombardier’s amphibious aircraft, and assumed responsibility for product support, parts and service for the fleet of 170 water bombers in service with 21 operators in 11 countries around the world.

In a similar transaction in 2006 Viking acquired from de Havilland Canada the rights for the Twin Otter and re-launched production in 2007 after a 22 year hiatus, delivering over 140 aircraft in 30 countries. Viking also produces the DHC-7 Dash 7, the DHC-3 Otter, DHC-5 Buffalo, and the DHC-2 Beaver.

And, in November, 2018 Longview Aviation Capital Corp., parent company to Viking, agreed to acquire, through an affiliate, the entire Dash 8 program including the 100, 200 and 300 series and the in-production Q400 program from Bombardier Inc. Also included as part of the transaction are rights to the de Havilland name and trademark. Once completed, Longview will become North America’s largest commercial turbo-prop aircraft manufacturer.

Earlier in 2018 the Conair Group purchased six Q400 MR aircraft from Bombardier which it will convert into multirole air tankers for France’s Securite Civile (Department of Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness). 

Longview Aviation Asset Management (LAAM) of Calgary, Alberta, in cooperation with Viking launched in May, 2018 the Viking CL-415EAF (“Enhanced Aerial Firefighter”) Conversion Program to include upgrades of many components. LAAM intended to hire up to 150 technical and support staff members at its Calgary facilities, where eleven specially selected CL-215 aerial firefighting aircraft owned by LAAM would undergo the modification process utilizing Viking-supplied conversion kits.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Isaac. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

News from the Aerial Firefighting conference, Part One

Air Tractor

Above: the Air Tractor display at the Aerial Firefighting conference.

Here are a few notes that I scribbled in a notebook at the Aerial Firefighting conference in Sacramento this week. This is Part One — I will post Part Two later.


Air Tractor
Mike Schoenau, an Air Tractor dealer out of Tulare, CA, said a new single engine air tanker is being flight tested now. The model name is AT-1002 and will hold up to 1,000 gallons. You will be able to purchase one for yourself for about $2.5 Million.

Fire Boss
Fire BossThe Bureau of Land Management has not released their list of SEATs on contract this year, many of which will be the amphibious Fire Boss, a variant of the Air Tractor 802. Fire Boss doesn’t know if they will be converting the new AT-1002 1,000-gallon SEAT to use floats.

10 Tanker

Rick Hatton, 10 Tanker
RIck Hatton of 10 Tanker Air Carrier.

Their fourth converted DC-10, Tanker 914, will be ready to fight fire this summer. Rick Hatton, the President and CEO of  10 Tanker Air Carrier, said their approval by the Interagency Airtanker Board came to the end of its six-year term, so they retook the grid test in December. Their three DC-10s averaged about 300 hours on fires in 2017, which is more than usual.

I got into a long detailed conversation with Mr. Hatton about how their retardant delivery system can maintain a constant flow, adjusting for the amount of retardant in the tank, drop height, and speed. It usually drops at 150 knots and 200 feet.

Hours per CL-415
As we reported yesterday, Shawna Legarza, the USFS Director of Fire and Aviation, said the two CL-415 scooping air tankers that were on USFS contract in 2017 each had over 400 hours of fire flight time. Due to a reduction in the firefighting budget, the two scoopers had to be cut this year from the exclusive use list. At least a couple are still on a CWN contract, but they may or may not be available if the USFS Calls them When Needed.

Columbia
Columbia HelicoptersKeith Saylor, Columbia’s Director of Commercial Operations, said the company will have three Type 1 helicopters, CH-47 Chinooks, on exclusive use contract this year. Two have internal tanks and one will use an external bucket.

Conair
ConairShawn Bethel, Conair’s Director, International Business Development, said the external tank on the Q400 can be removed in about three hours by 9 to 12 workers. They recently received a contract to supply six Q400’s to France’s Securite Civile (Department of Civil Defense and Emergency Preparedness).

The Q400 MR can carry up to 10,000 liters (2,600 gallons) of water or retardant. In addition to the nine S-2’s and two Q-400’s, France also has twelve CL-415’s and 40 helicopters.

Conair to convert six Q400s into multirole air tankers for France

Q400MR Bombardier
Bombardier Q400 dropping retardant. Bombardier photo.

The Conair Group has purchased six Q400 MR aircraft from Bombardier which it will convert into multirole air tankers for France’s Securite Civile (Department of Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness). Fire Aviation first covered France’s decision to acquire six  Q400s in July, 2017, but now we have confirmation that Conair will purchase the aircraft, convert them into multirole air tankers, and then transfer them to Securite Civile.

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.

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 Securite Civile has been pondering what to do about replacing their nine S-2’s 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-2’s 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.

France considered the CL-415 water-scooping amphibious tanker formerly made by Bombardier, but it is no longer in production with the program being sold to Viking Air Limited in 2016Viking is considering manufacturing them again, but for now they are providing service and support for the CL-215’s and CL-415’s operating around the world.

Securite Civile has operated two Q-400 air tankers since 2005, so retiring the S-2’s and acquiring more Q-400’s will reduce the complexity of the maintenance and operation of their fleet.

In addition to the nine S-2’s and two Q-400’s, France also has eleven or twelve CL-415’s and 40 helicopters.

Here is the automatic translation of the text in the following tweet by the Minister of the Interior:

I was involved this summer, with the fires that have affected our country: I just signed the acquisition of 6 Multirole aircraft for civil security. ✅ We renew our fleet air for fire fighting & project forces and material.

If you do not see the photos in the tweet below, click HERE.

France to replace their S-2 air tankers with Q400’s

Q400MR Bombardier photo.

Above: Bombardier Q400MR — Bombardier Photo.

(Originally published at 3:52 p.m. MDT July 29, 2017.)

France’s Securite Civile (Department of Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness) is replacing their ageing turbine-powered S-2 air tankers with Bombardier Q400-MR’s. The bids for the contract were advertised in 2016 and this week Gérard Collomb, Minister of the Interior, announced that they will place an order for six of the Multi-role aircraft that can carry up to 2,600 US gallons of water or retardant.

For several years Securite Civile has been pondering what to do about replacing their S-2’s that are approaching their structural life limit of 25,000 hours, according to the agency. Their plans announced last year were to retire the nine S-2’s 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. The Q400 MR (the MR stands for “Multi-Role) can haul cargo or passengers in addition to operating in the firefighting realm.

Q400MR Bombardier
Bombardier Q400MR dropping retardant. Bombardier photo.

France considered the CL-415 water-scooping amphibious tanker formerly made by Bombardier, but it is no longer in production with the program being sold to Viking Air Limited in 2016. Viking is considering manufacturing them again, but for now they are providing service and support for the CL-215’s and CL-415’s operating around the world.

Securite Civile has operated two Q-400 air tankers since 2005, so retiring the S-2’s and acquiring more Q-400’s will reduce the complexity of the maintenance and operation of their fleet.

In addition to the 9 S-2’s and 2 Q-400’s, France also has 11 or 12 CL-415’s and 40 helicopters.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Isaac.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.