Wings Magazine

Coulson gets support for aerial firefighting R&D

Coulson Aircrane Ltd., an aviation company based in Port Alberni, BC, and focused on aerial firefighting R&D around aircraft, received a repayable investment of nearly $3.4 million through the Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund.

October 23, 2018  By Wings Staff

“Innovative companies such as Coulson Aircrane are a key part of our government’s plan to grow the economy and create well-paying middle-class jobs for British Columbians,” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement. “As a world leader in aerial firefighting, Coulson is a testament to the kind of quality work that this region is capable of – and the quality talent that is right here in British Columbia.”

Qualtrough continued to explain the development of Coulson’s technology will better protect Canadian forests from wildfire damage and increase efficiency by providing the ability to deliver both fire retardant and fire-fighting personnel at the same time.

More specifically, the funding supports Coulson’s first-of-its-kind research and development initiative to convert a Boeing 737 plane into a dual-purpose aerial firefighting tanker/passenger aircraft that can be used to fight fires in Canada and elsewhere.

“This investment has been instrumental in our company’s conversion of airliners into tankers for fighting fires as well as carrying passengers,” said Wayne Coulson, CEO, Coulson Group. “Extensive aircraft modifications took place here at the Port Alberni airport, involving 140,000 hours of work in the community. We are proud that the newly completed air tankers will begin fighting forest fires globally this fall and that we are currently converting another airliner.”


This investment is expected to create up to 15 new high-value, local jobs. It will also facilitate collaboration with post-secondary institutions and generate new Canadian intellectual property.     Coulson Aircrane is a family-owned company that works with firefighting agencies in Canada, the United States and Australia.

Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund is described as a program designed to attract and support high-quality business investments across all sectors of the economy by encouraging R&D that will accelerate the transfer of technology and the commercialization of innovative products, processes and services and will facilitate the growth of innovative firms.


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