Conair Group Inc., one of the world’s largest and most experienced speciality aircraft operations providers and Falko, the UK-based aircraft asset management company, announced at the Aerial Firefighting Conference and Exhibition, in Sacramento, California that they have signed an exclusive world-wide Joint Venture marketing agreement to promote the Avro RJ85 jet aircraft as the next generation Type 1 large airtanker with over 3000 US gallons of capacity.
The agreement follows the sale by Falko to Conair in late 2011 of an initial late model RJ85 aircraft. This aircraft was delivered in December to Conair’s facility at Abbotsford in British Columbia, Canada. The aircraft is now undergoing conversion to an airtanker and will be ready for the 2013 fire season, after all regulatory tests have been carried out and approvals received.
Rick Pedersen, Senior Vice President of Conair believes that the Avro RJ85 Airtanker is the most suitable aircraft to meet the urgent requirement for a modern, affordable, Type 1 airtanker for service over many decades in the North American market initially, but also in overseas arenas. He said:
“ We have undertaken a detailed evaluation of both the BAe 146 and Avro RJ85 including simulator and flight testing of the aircraft in the demanding low-level profile required in fire-fighting missions. It is important to note that we are working closely with BAE Systems as the Original Equipment Manufacturer. As a later variant of the BAe 146, the Avro RJ85 is a younger aircraft which will give longer life, and with its higher design weights and better ‘hot and high’ performance it will be a more suitable aircraft for these demanding missions.
“With the improved performance of the RJ85 coupled with what we believe to be a game-changing tank design, the RJ85 Airtanker will offer a significant improved mission capability compared to existing, new and proposed aircraft including the BAe 146-200.”
Falko has a portfolio of approximately 30 Avro RJ85s, which is the singular largest supply of this type, some of which are available immediately, and others that will soon be available.
Mr Stuart Begg, Vice President Sales & Marketing of Falko commented:
“We are excited to be joining forces with Conair who are, in our opinion, the most experienced airtanker conversion house and operator in the world today. We have a good feedstock of aircraft that will more than meet the requirements of the market in terms of numbers required. There is no doubt that, once approved, the Avro RJ85 Airtanker with the Conair designed and installed tank and delivery system will be a long-term solution to the pressing replacement needs of the aerial firefighting industry”.