Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, takes to the air above the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, takes to the air above the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)

Coulson Aviation’s newest helitanker takes flight

Converted Chinook helitanker off to U.S. for new paint job

Coulson Aviation debuted the newest aircraft in its aerial firefighting arsenal earlier this month over the Alberni Valley.

Chinook N43CU, a helitanker, was just converted with Coulson’s RADS-L tanking system that allows it to carry up to 3,000 gallons of fire suppressant. It is Coulson’s fifth CH47D Chinook in the company’s fleet.

The Chinook flew its first flights over the city since a complete overhaul and airframe conversion that took place at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport in Coulson’s hangar.

The Chinook left April 10 for Irvine, Calif., where it will get a new coat of paint at International Aerospace Coatings (IAC). “We have painted them here in Port Alberni as well, we use various vendors based on timeline requirements,” a Coulson Aviation spokesperson said.

Coulson’s other four Chinook helicopters were in Chile for that country’s summer season, working for two different companies at four air bases. They have been loaded into a cargo ship for the return trip to their home base at the Coulson Unical hangar in San Bernardino, California.

This was the second year Coulson brought firefighting aircraft to Chile.

“This was an opportunity to integrate large aircraft into major fire operations within Chile and we look forward to continuing work collaboratively with our Chilean partners and customers in the coming seasons,” Coulson Group president and chief operating officer Foster Coulson said in a statement.

The apron by Coulson’s hangar at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport has been full for the past few weeks. Coulson’s latest C-130, nicknamed “Brage”, has been waiting conversion to an air tanker since its arrival at the beginning of February. This particular C-130 was previously part of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

One of the company’s 737 Fireliners was here as well, and left April 10 to San Bernardino, Calif., where the remainder of Coulson’s fixed wing fleet are located. It is likely the Fireliner will be contracted to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for the summer fire season.

Coulson also has two converted C-130s, a 737 Fireliner, three Sikorsky S61helitankers and a Sikorsky S76 aerial supervision platform based in Australia, where they were contracted to western Australia as well as the states of Victoria and New South Wales.

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Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, lifts off from the runway at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, lifts off from the runway at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, taxis from the busy apron at Coulson’s hangar at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport for a flight over the city, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, taxis from the busy apron at Coulson’s hangar at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport for a flight over the city, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)