Vancouver-based Coulson Aviation has acquired six Boeing 737-300s from Southwest Airlines. Only, they are not going to fly passengers – these are going to be used to put out fires!
The first one, was delivered to Alberni Valley Regional Airport from Spokane, Washington on May 26 and the second will follow soon.
“Over the next few months we will convert the aircraft into the Fireliner,” Wayne Coulson the Chief Executive Officer of Coulson Aviation told the author “It’s a game changer and will separate us from the rest of the market.”
The airliner will complete the Boeing 737’s conversion into an airborne fire-fighting aircraft at the company’s Vancouver base, by integrating the Coulson-developed gravity retardant aerial delivery system (RADS). “It will be capable of carrying 4,000 gallons of water or fire retardant and drop 2,200 gallons per second. No other aircraft can match that.
“That’s three times more than a MAFFS (Modular Air Fire Fighting System) modified C-130 Hercules.” Coulson added enthusiastically.
Work to cut into the belly of the Boeing 737 to create doors under the fluid in the tank was expected to start on June 1 and will continue through to late November. Once the work is completed the aircraft will head south into the USA for two weeks, to calibrate the tank during a series of drops with the US Forest Service.
“Jets aren’t meant to go low and slow at max gross weight,” he said. “But the Fireliner can go as slow as 130 knots at 200 feet above the ground. That’s why we get such a great flow rate on the system. ”
“It will have the only Next Gen Smart computerized tanking system in the world, with an onboard computer that has GPS and radar altimeter.” Coulson continued.
But it isn’t all about water, the Fireliner will be able to carry up to 63 passengers at a time – roughly about three fire-fighting teams. Fire-fighting won’t be the jet’s only role. In a bid to ensure the aircraft are in service all the year round, Coulson is also hoping to use them to disperse chemicals and oil spills whenever called upon.
Meanwhile of the six aircraft which will end up working with Coulson, the third is expected this month (June), and the final three in September.
Coulson Aviation also operates three C-130H Hercules in the air tanker configuration, which are fitted with his revolutionary RADS. A fourth will join the fleet shortly.
Clearly Wayne Coulson, is a man who puts his money where his mouth is. In 2007 he purchased the Hawaii and Philippine Mars, the world’s largest water bomber to expand the company’s firefighting capabilities. Since purchasing the Mars water bombers, significant upgrades have been carried out on the Hawaii Mars to bring it to higher aviation and safety standards for modern-day firefighting. The “Next Generation” Hawaii Mars has an EFIS Glass Cockpit and the ability to stream live data from certain key on-board, indication systems. Other forms of data that are available from the aircraft in real time are Flight Tracking, Load Data measuring, Aircraft Performance statistics, Atmospheric Condition at Drop readings, and Accurate Drop Location reporting.