By: Steve Whitby
The Dash 8-400 airtanker, while new to Canada, has been operating since 2005
British Columbia (BC) based Conair has deployed a fleet of 70 aerial firefighting aircraft for the fire season in Canada.
The fleet is a mix of fixed-wing aircraft including Bird Dog lead planes, amphibious waterbombers and airtankers. The newest airtanker in the world today, the Dash 8-400AT, converted by Conair, is included in this group. Four of these new large airtankers worked the month of May in Alberta, a first for the province, responding to a challenging and early fire season, supporting firefighter partners.
The Dash 8-400 airtanker, while new to Canada, has been operating since 2005. The multi role version of this aircraft is owned and operated by the Government of France, a fleet of eight built by Conair, with each aircraft offering a variety of emergency response roles including medevac, passenger, cargo, combi plus airtanker capability.
This year in Canada, BC welcomes three Dash 8-400ATs, with one positioned in Fort St John and two based in Penticton, taking the place of the now retired Convair CV580 fleet.
“Retiring our legacy fleet of Electra L188 and Convair CV580 aircraft was necessary as the supply of parts was dwindling globally. We reached a point where we could not guarantee the serviceability needed for an emergency response aircraft, so we proactively replaced our fleet with a modern airtanker,” said Jeff Berry, Vice President of Business Development with Conair. “The Dash is fully supported by De Havilland Canada, the Original Equipment Manufacturer, ensuring an abundant supply of parts is readily available to keep the airtanker flying for decades. This provides the level of reliability we require.”