SPSA announces renewal of its land-based airtanker fleet

April 26, 2024

Saskatchewan invests in new airtanker aircraft

On April 23, 2024, Premier Scott Moe and Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Paul Merriman announced the acquisition of four new land-based airtanker aircraft for the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA).

This investment, totaling approximately $187.06 million, is part of an initiative to replace the aging fleet of Convair 580 airplanes, which are expected to reach the end of their operational lifespan by 2027.

The new fleet includes two Dash 8-Q400AT models and two Dash 8-Q400MRE models.

These aircraft are noted for their versatility and efficiency in emergency response situations.

Minister Merriman highlighted the strategic importance of the new aircraft: “Saskatchewan relies on land-based airtanker aircraft as part of its approach to managing wildfires.

“These aircraft are used in instances where waterbombers may not be able to access lakes to fill up their tanks.”

Features and capabilities of the new aircraft

The Dash 8-Q400AT models are specifically designed as air tankers, while the Dash 8-Q400MRE models can be converted for multiple roles, including air evacuations, patient transport, and cargo hauling.

Both models are recognized for their increased capacity and efficiency, reducing emissions by 30% compared to similar sized airtankers.

Conair Aerial Firefighting’s President and CEO, Matt Bradley, expressed his support for Saskatchewan’s proactive measures: “Saskatchewan leads the country in preparing for future disasters with their order for four modern emergency response aircraft.

“They are the first province to invest in the safety and security of their citizens with a purchase of the multi role airtankers, built by Canadians for Canadians.”

Financial and environmental impact

The financial commitment from SPSA for the 2024-25 fiscal year includes a $5.52 million deposit, with a subsequent three-year payment plan.

Additionally, Federal funding through Natural Resources Canada’s Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate Program (FMWCC) will provide $16.29 million to help offset the cost of the aircraft.

“These planes will replace the SPSA’s aging land-based airtanker fleet with a modern, supportable aircraft with an anticipated useful life of 25 years,” said Merriman.

“They will also support the SPSA’s ability to provide an operational response to more emergencies and public safety events beyond wildfires.”

The first aircraft is scheduled to arrive in late summer of 2025, with the complete delivery expected by the end of 2027.

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