Canada-based Conair Group is bolstering its fleet of Bombardier Q400 turboprops, ordering six new-build aircraft that will be converted into multirole airtankers primarily for firefighting work.
The six new production Q400s will be modified with a Conair-developed Retardant Delivery System, while their interiors will have the flexibility to operate passenger, cargo, combi and medivac missions, Bombardier said on Monday (Canadian time).
The retardant tank is able to be fitted or removed in a few hours, enabling the aircraft to perform other roles when not undertaking firefighting duties.
“The enhanced Q400 Multirole has the most advanced airtanker capabilities of any aircraft in service today,” Conair chairman and chief executive Barry Marsden said.
“The Q400 Multirole’s versatility delivers optimal value by accommodating year-round service in passenger, cargo, combi transport, medivac, emergency response, surveillance and patrol without compromising state-of-the-art airtanker capabilities.”
Bombardier Specialized Aircraft vice president Stéphane Leroy said the Q400 multirole offered a “unique ability to serve diverse and challenging environments” and was the ideal aircraft to meet Conair’s needs.
Conair’s firefighting fleet already includes Q400 multirole aircraft, as well the Avro RJ85, Cessna 208 Caravan, Cessna Citation Jet, Convair CV240 and Lockheed L-188, among other types.
Conair Convair and, more recently, Avro RJ85 firebombers, have deployed to Victoria during recent Australian fire seasons.