The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)

Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircrafts have arrived in Abbotsford and Conair Group Inc. will soon begin the conversion into airtankers engineered specifically for aerial firefighting.

The craft will eventually transform into the Q400AT, which is considered to be the most advanced airtanker in the world today.

RELATED: Abbotsford’s Conair expanding fleet of firefighting airtankers

The aircraft will be modified from Conair’s hangars in Abbotsford by their team of aerospace specialists. The modification process will begin this quarter and is scheduled to be completed in time for North America’s wildfire season, taking approximately 75 calendar days to convert.

“The first step in the conversion process is an interior de-mod, or stripping down the cabin to the bare frame in order to reduce the aircraft’s weight.” stated Dustin Littler, Aircraft Conversion Manager at Conair. “The cockpit is then opened up to allow for access to install specialized avionics.”

The flight deck is equipped with a Conair developed and Transport Canada certified Flight Envelope Awareness System, which provide pilots with enhanced safety awareness information such as instantaneous G-Loading, slow speed awareness, and angle of attack information.

The airtanker will be outfitted with an external tank, enabling the interior of the fuselage to remain pressurized and climate controlled, creating a safer environment for pilots by reducing fatigue.

“It takes a solid eight weeks to install the tank, fairings and perform avionics modifications, plus another two weeks to reassemble the cockpit, and perform operational tests, ground runs and test flights.” Littler added. “The tank is manufactured, tested and calibrated prior to the install on the Dash 8.”

The Q400AT is then painted in Conair’s signature white, red and black colours to complete the process.

Conair has been modifying the Q400 into airtankers since 2005, operating the first Q400AT in Australia this past bushfire season and providing a multi-role variant, the Q400MR, to France for the past 15 years.

“This is the most versatile airtanker of its size available for aerial firefighting.” stated Jeff Berry, Director of Business Development at Conair. “The converted aircraft has the capacity to drop 10,000 litres of water, retardant or gel/foam over diverse geography, operable on most 5,000 ft runways. This means the large airtanker can respond to a multitude of fires,including those in more remote settings not located near large airports or tanker bases. It offers greater flexibility, response and support for our wildfire agency customers.”

abbotsfordFraser Valley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patios, retail shops to expand outdoor spaces in West Kelowna (PHOTO: The City of West Kelowna).
West Kelowna allows expanded patios, retail spaces

West Kelowna allows businesses to expand outdoor service areas due to pandemic restrictions

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Kate Budau’s flat tire outside of Glenmore Elementary School on Monday. (Contributed)
Kelowna mom searches for Good Samaritans who helped her change a tire

Woman looking for two dads who helped her after her tire popped in the Glenmore Elementary School drop-off area on Monday

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Volunteers at the West Kelowna Salvation Army were celebrated with a special treat on Monday. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Central Okanagan community organizations celebrate volunteers

It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week and non-profits are highlighting the people who put in the work

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Lumby resident Dan Hill was at Vernon’s Polson Park to celebrate 4-20 by giving away free marijuana joints to people of age April 20, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
North Okanagan man back with free joints, cupcakes on 4-20

Dan Hill is trying to help people of age relax during a stressful April with marijuana giveaway

A lit cigarette tossed from a passing car is believed to be the cause of a grass fire which was only held to a ditch by the quick action of passersby in Salmon Arm on April 19. (Pixabay image)
Passersby fight Salmon Arm roadside grass fire believed started by flicked cigarette

Dry conditions prompt warning from resident, fire department

Most Read