Canada’s Conair Group Inc. (Conair), has announced the purchase of seven Dash 8-400 aircraft for conversion to airtankers, engineered specifically for aerial firefighting.
Countries around the globe are grappling with the intensifying and unpredictable behavior of wildfires. The challenge is often compounded by a shortage of efficient aerial firefighting resources or outdated fleets in dire need of upgrades.
Conair fleet operations
In 2021, the company acquired eleven Dash 8-400 aircraft to replace its aging airtanker fleet and expand operations into new markets.
As of 2023, Conair has four Dash 8-400 airtankers under contract in British Columbia, two in Alaska, one in Australia, and another in France.
Aero-Flite Inc., Conair’s subsidiary based in the United States, also has two aircraft under contract in Washington State. The culmination of these efforts will see all aircraft from the 2021 purchase operating as airtankers by the end of 2023, offering support to government agencies across three continents.
“Countries are facing escalating wildfire behaviour. And many are challenged by limited aerial firefighting resources or aging fleets in need of modernization to ensure the firetruck in the sky is ready to dispatch when the call comes,” shares Matt Bradley, President and CEO of Conair.
“Supply of modern, large airtankers is limited. Our purchase gives us the ability to support countries as they adapt to the changing wildfire environment, continuing to protect their citizens and resources using air assets.”
“The purchase of seven additional aircraft for conversion offers countries an answer to the question of how to fight future wildfires. They can proactively build their response capacity for upcoming fire
seasons by contracting the most modern airtanker available in the world today.”
“Conair will convert these aircraft over the next two years, selling the airtankers direct to governments who own and operate their own fleet, or by providing long-term operational contracts through either Conair or AeroFlite” shares Jeff Berry, Vice President of Business Development.
“We are producing a new airtanker every 75 days from our facility in Canada, with the ability to expand.”
The Dash 8-400 aircraft, procured in 2023 from Kirk Aviation via Aergo Capital Asset Management, brings a new level of sophistication to aerial firefighting.
Originally stationed in Europe, these aircraft are undergoing transformation in Abbotsford, British Columbia, at Conair’s facilities after being brought to Canada and temporarily stored in Mississauga. The first aircraft is set to undergo conversion into an airtanker during the upcoming winter.
Conair Group Inc. is a Canadian company that specializes in fire management support and aerial firefighting. The company was founded in 1969 by Leandro Rizzuto and is headquartered in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
Conair Aerial Firefighting is a leading provider of aerial firefighting services in North America. The company has a fleet of 65 aircraft, including air attack planes, waterbombers, and helicopters.
The air operator provides services to forest protection agencies around the world, including the Canadian Forest Service, the United States Forest Service, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.