Coulson Aviation, of Port Alberni, has bought four ex-U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Citation 550s to use as high speed lead-in aircraft for firefighting operations. In addition to having the speed and range needed for the next-generation jet and turboprop air tankers, the Citations came equipped with factory-installed equipment to add external sensors. That will allow the Citation pilots to gather intelligence on their initial runs before leading the tankers in.
Coulson’s firefighting business has expanded significantly in the last year. It has formed a partnership with Linfox in Australia to create a national air tanker company. It has also signed a five-year contract with the U.S. Forest Service to convert some ex-Southwest Airlines 737-400s into air tankers that it calls the Fireliner.