An Okanagan company’s fleet of firefighting helicopters has grown by four after a delivery from Mexico City arrived earlier this week.
Coldstream Helicopters has acquired four Super Pumas from the Mexican Presidential Air Wing.
Once used to transport Mexico’s heads of state, the aircraft will be repurposed into Fire Cats, which are specially designed for firefighting to be used by BC Wildfire Service and other fire agencies across Canada, the U.S. and beyond.
The company now has 10 Super Pumas with the acquisition, each capable of lifting 10,000 pounds, making Coldstream Helicopters the largest heavy-lift operator in Canada.
“Basically it can lift itself,” said president and CEO Rob Gallagher.
Most large and heavy helicopters used by the military can’t carry passengers, Gallagher said, but the newly acquired models are ‘standard category,’ meaning they are certified airline aircraft.
“It’s the only Type-1 standard category helicopter available in both the Canada and U.S. fire arsenals,” Gallagher said.
Coldstream Helicopters sent a dozen team members down to Mexico to complete the transaction. The four aircraft were then flown from Mexico City to the company’s heavy maintenance facilities in Kelowna.
The company’s aircraft are used to battle blazes worldwide, but particularly in B.C., Alberta and California.