Port Alberni's Coulson Aviation sending firefighting aircraft to U.S. wildfires
PORT ALBERNI -- They still can't get the green-light to fight any fires in their home province, but Port Alberni's Coulson Group continues to send more aircraft down south. Their latest piece of firefighting technology, a Chinook Helicopter, will head to California on Wednesday to begin fighting wildfires in the U.S. state.
"This is the fourth CH-47 that will go online this year," said Coulson Aviation president Britt Coulson.
"It just came out of a year and a half of heavy maintenance and upgrades and this is our second tank system that we've installed in the 47," he said.
The chopper will be deployed in southern California and utilizes a 3,000 U.S. gallon tank that can drop either water, foam or fire retardant.
"When we started with the CH-47 program two years ago, this was the ultimate goal, to have an initial attack response asset like this with a tank in it that can do day or night firefighting," said Coulson.
In the past few years, the company has been expanding the capabilities of its aircraft to fight fires at night. According to Mel Ceccanti, the company's director of flight operations, that new focus has resulted in a major advancement.
"During nighttime we're way more effective," he said. "The winds are less, the humidity comes up, there's less aircraft on the fire to worry about and it allows us to be way more efficient on what we're doing."
While other aircraft are already being used to fight fires in California at night, Coulson Aviation says nothing as large as the CH-47 has been involved in night operations.
"Generally, those aircraft are much smaller in size. This aircraft will haul on average three times more than those aircraft," Ceccanti said.
The chopper will head down to Sacramento, CA, on Wednesday afternoon where it will finish maintenance inspections before going into service at the end of this month.