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Vancouver Island firm awarded big Australian aerial firefighting tanker contract

Coulson Aviation’s converted Boeing 737 aerial firefighting tanker on its way down under
A photo of Coulson Aviation’s Boeing 737 Tanker 139, now named “Phoenix.” (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Port Alberni’s Coulson Aviation has been awarded another contract for aerial firefighting in Australia.

One of Coulson’s converted Boeing 737s, Tanker 139, has been awarded the contract for Australia’s National Large Air Tanker (LAT). The National LAT is funded by the Australian government through a partnership with the National Aerial Firefighting Centre. The contract is for two years with the option to extend.

The tanker will be based in Sydney, New South Wales but will support additional locations in-country as needed.

“Coulson is proud to provide our state-of-the-art aircraft to the Federal Australian Government,” said Coulson Aviation Australia CEO Britt Coulson in a press release. “This aircraft is an incredibly efficient bomber and the crews that operate each of our aircraft are second to none.”

As the National LAT, Tanker 139 will wear the name “Phoenix.” The name was chosen by a naming competition held last year in Australian schools. The joint winners were Bishop Druitt College from Coffs Harbour, St Patrick’s College from Campbelltown, and Christian College from Geelong.

“Working alongside dedicated Australian firefighters, Phoenix will be one of the key assets supporting this upcoming bush fire season,” said Coulson.

Phoenix is equipped with Coulson Aviation’s Retardant Aerial Delivery System, which makes it capable of dropping up to 4,000 gallons of retardant or water at flow rates of up to 3,000 gallons per second.

Coulson Aviation has operated in Australia for almost 20 years, providing aerial support across multiple Australian states. Just last month, Coulson was also awarded a four-year firefighting contract with the Western Australia government for a C-130H Hercules Airtanker.

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