Canada’s Coulson Aviation has received the first Boeing 737-700 from Southwest Airlines for conversion into an aerial firefighting aircraft at its site in Port Alberni, British Columbia.

The latest arrival (N7841A) is the first of up to 10 aircraft to be transformed under the company’s Next Gen Fireliner programme. Previous Fireliner conversions have used older 737-300s as feedstock, all supplied by Southwest.

Coulson 737-c-Coulson Aviation

Source: Coulson Aviation

Former Southwest Airlines jet is a 2001-built example

Cirium fleets data identifies the 737-700 (MSN28015) as a 2001-built example first operated by Denmark’s Maersk Air before being taken on by Southwest in 2016. It has accumulated 60,200 flight hours, the data shows.

Britt Coulson, chief operating officer of Coulson Aviation, says the Next Gen variant will build on the success of its existing conversion programme.

“The Fireliner platform has been the go-to large air tanker for foreign governments to purchase due to its unique multi-role capability allowing it to transport passengers when not deployed on active firefighting missions,” he says 

Using a commonplace aircraft like the 737 also simplifies finding pilots, maintenance crews and spare parts, Coulson adds.

The Next Gen Fireliner will be able to carry a payload of 19,000 litres (5,000USgal) of water or retardant. It also features improved range, speed and fuel economy over legacy products.

Coulson 737 second-c-Coulson Aviation

Source: Coulson Aviation

Conversion will take place at Port Alberni site in British Columbia