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

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

Marchers supporting Indian farmers rallied in Surrey last month, from Bear Creek Park to Holland Park along King George Boulevard. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey MP says mayor’s motion to support Indian farmers is his to make

“He has his own sovereignty, right,” Sukh Dhaliwal says

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

(Photo: Creative Outlet)
YOUR MONEY: Tax tips for a complicated tax season involving CERB and more

With April 30 tax deadline, ‘it is important to understand the tax implications (benefits) will have’

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from April 4 to 10, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Active COVID-19 case in Delta hit new high

262 cases for the week of April 4 to 10, most since BC CDC began releasing weekly city-level data

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Most Read