Case Study

Is it time? The future of aerial firefighting

The wildfire landscape is changing globally. Fire seasons are longer and the number of wildfires is increasing, larger in size and verocity. In many regions of the world, it is time to augment or diversify available aerial firefighting resources, increasing capacity and capability to meet future demand in wildfire control.

Aircraft used to fight wildfires as airtankers are generally converted from older model aircraft. Often these airframes have flown long hours over a period of decades in military or commercial use before being repurposed to airtankers, outfitted with special tanks to drop retardant, water or gel/foam on flames. Although aerial firefighters fly less hours than in their previous capacity, they are flown into more demanding scenarios, scenarios they were not originally designed to do. Continuously dropping low, unloading the weight of a payload, and climbing rapidly adds stress to the aircraft. It is natural for the metal components to start to wear after extended periods of use. Even the smallest fissure, unseen by the human eye, can lead to an incident. Modernizing fleets with the introduction of newer model airframes ensures airtankers aren’t grounded when needed most.

Conair is proactive in their response to the need to modernize fleets, keeping firetrucks in the sky when the call comes. The Dash 8-400 airtanker is the newest airtanker in the world. It performs significantly better than all other similar size airtankers, dropping 15.9 litres of retardant for every litre of fuel burned, more than double the retardant delivered for fuel burned by most large airtankers when calculated using a typical wildfire, for example 60,000 litres of retardant situated 110 km from an airbase. “With today’s increasing fuel costs, the Dash 8-400 airtanker offers customers the most fuel-efficient solution to their large airtanker needs. Less fuel means less operational costs, plus less emissions into our environment, with the Dash 8-400 producing 30% less emissions than airtankers of similar size.” says Jeff Berry, Director of Business Development at Conair.

The Dash 8-400 airtanker is sustainable and fuel efficient, but more importantly it is fast and effective. Holder of three ‘Time to Climb’ records, the aircraft responds with jet-like speed (360 knots), meaning a fast return from base to fire and back. The Dash 8-400 airtanker deploys from shorter runways (5,000’) positioned closer to where wildfires occur, translating into a faster initial attack. And the externally mounted 10,000 litre tank ensures the integrity of the airframe is not compromised, reducing the risk of structural fatigue while preserving the pressurized cabin.

The Dash 8-400 airtanker is the newest, most sustainable airtanker in the world today, fully supported by De Havilland, the OEM. “Few large airtankers in the world can boast this level of support.” says Jeff. “There are many Dash 8-400 aircraft in commercial operation today, offering a large supply of not only airframes for future conversion, but also inventory of parts. The Dash 8-400 airtanker provides government customers the security of knowing their fleet won’t be grounded when needed the most.”

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See the Dash 8-400 airtanker in action…


Canadian Propeller – Your Authorized Propeller Service Facility

Canadian Propeller is Canada’s leading Authorized Service Facility, servicing McCauley, Hartzell, Hamilton Sundstrand, and others across various aircraft types. We are proud to be delivering Canadian quality workmanship and results all over the world.


KADEX AERO SUPPLY: The choice for all your aftermarket part needs

KADEX Aero Supply is an aircraft parts & supplies distributor. KADEX distributes over 100 different manufacturers and offers repair and overhaul management, maintenance/technical support and can support operators with AOG services. KADEX specializes in Beechcraft King Air airframe providing reliable OEM and FAA PMA Approved parts.

KADEX is a Canadian family owned and operated business serving worldwide airlines and operators with industry leading service since 1994.

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Improving Visual Oversight with Sandhills Aviation- a Case Study


We spoke to Steven Sherwood from Sandhills Aviation, an aviation service provider focused on providing aviation solutions for aerial survey operations. They conduct aerial survey missions primarily from October–May throughout the contiguous United States.With operational and maintenance bases out of Wahoo, NE (KAHQ) and Mesa, AZ (KFFZ),they are strategically positioned to be able to provide many resources for their customers.Sandhills Aviation’s fleet comprises of 4 Cessna 172 Skyhawks and 4 Piper Aztecs for their aerial survey division, and are in a continual state of growth.Their three main types of projects are wide area projects, including entire counties, large scale oil pipelines or electric grids for power lines, and work for the military and government where they require specialised mapping.


As an organisation, safety, efficiency of operations, and their focus on quality over quantity,are not just important – but imperative.When covering a country that spans over 9.8 million kilometres, Sherwood needs assurance in knowing exactly where his fleet of fixed-wing aircraft are at all times, and how they are being flown, for the safety of his team and efficiency of his fleet.


Sherwood utilises Spidertracks’ reporting dashboard to give him the ability to see everything at a glance, and get detailed reports on all flights that have flown.He says it’s also nice to have back and forth communication by using Spidertxt, to stay connected and help his pilots out. He likes having the ability to watch them fly, and monitor some of the safety events they have.Spidertracks generates reports for Sherwood to read at each end of the day, to see how histeam flew, and how the aircraft weathered on their journeys.Visual oversight is a key component of ensuring the safety of Sherwoods team members.“Having a system like Spidertracks, and a Spider X, allows me to tell pilots that in an emergency they can press the SOS button. We get notified instantly, already know exactly
how fast you’re going and exactly where you’re at, so worst case, we’ll find you if something happens.”

Introducing the DHC-515 FIREFIGHTER™

THE DHC-515 FIREFIGHTER™ is a new production amphibious firefighting aircraft developed by De Havilland Canada. Building on the exceptional operational capability of the CL-415, this next generation aircraft offers significant benefits to operators, including design changes that incorporate new materials, and corrosion protection to reduce maintenance costs. For today’s and future navigational standards, it offers a complete upgrade of the flight deck with an advanced avionics suite, delivering world class reliability, enhanced safety, and unrivaled situational awareness.

Backed by De Havilland Canada’s global support network, the DHC-515 FIREFIGHTER™ is ready for firefighting duty in every corner of the world.