Sacramento, California.....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 today at the Aerial Firefighting Conference and Exhibition, in Sacramento, California that they have signed an exclusive worldwide 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”.
Conair maintains and operates a fleet of over 50 fixed wing special mission aircraft from its home base at the Abbotsford Airport in southwestern British Columbia. Just minutes from the US border, Conair occupies more than 100,000 square feet of hangar space. As a privately owned company it responds to the diverse aircraft needs of fire protection agencies by operating a variety of Air Tanker and Air Attack aircraft types.
Conair has over 40 years of fire control experience in aerial forest firefighting. It employs over 200 skilled people and participates in 7,000 – 10,000 fire control flight hours flown each year. Today Conair maintains its position as a leader in specialised services including aeronautical engineering design and support services, technology and knowledge transfer related to its firefighting activities.
Falko Regional Aircraft (“Falko”) is a market leading asset manager in the regional aircraft arena. It was formed in July 2011 following its acquisition of the BAE Systems Asset Management portfolio. Falko is owned by funds managed by Fortress Investment Group LLC. Falko manages a fleet of 130 regional aircraft and plans to significantly increase the size of its portfolio over the coming years.