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Conair Group Inc. of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, formerly known as Conair Aviation Ltd, is a company specializing in retrofitting firefighting aircraft, maintaining customer and company-owned aircraft and aerial firefighting.
Conair currently employs over 250 staff and has a fleet of aircraft that are broken down into two categories; air attack (a.k.a. bird dog), and air-tankers (a.k.a. water-bombers). Conair specializes in fire management support by providing services and products to forest protection agencies around the world. In 1996 Conair became a Canadian Air Tractor dealer for the AT-802F air tanker. A former Conair Group division; Cascade Aerospace was acquired by the IMP Group of Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2012


The Company was started by a consortium led by Les Kerr consisting of: Leslie George "Les" Kerr, K. Barry Marsden, Herman Joseph "Slim" Knights, Ronald "Ron" F. Connelly of Whitehorse, Yukon, and John De Voin (a silent partner). Les Kerr had worked for Skyway Air Services Ltd. for 17 years and put together the 5 man group to take control of the fire control and aerial agricultural interests of Skyway Air Services Ltd. In the transaction, they took 35 employees and 19 single engine aircraft. This took place after the owner for Skyway (Art Seller), had suffered a stroke and wanted to eliminate some of his workload.

Skyway Air Services Ltd., was started shortly after the close of WW2. They were pioneers in the development and operation of aerial fire fighting, agricultural and pest control spraying. After the interests were sold, Skyway continued to operate as a flying school and charter business out of Langley, British Columbia.

The new company was called Conair Aviation Ltd and was incorporated in April 1969 receiving their operating license on October 22, 1969. As part of the deal, the aircraft and assets that Conair purchased were: 13 Grumman Avengers, 5 Boeing Stearmans, 1 North American Harvard and the existing Skyway hangar located at Abbotsford, British Columbia.

In 1978 Conair acquired a subsidiary; Frontier Helicopters Ltd. based at Watson Lake, Yukon. This rotary division was renamed Conair Helicopters in 1999. Conair also went into the Air Cargo business in 1980 by starting a company named Swiftair Cargo. They filed for license in early July 1979, and flew for the first time on September 15, 1980 using two Douglas DC-8 aircraft flying in opposite directions across Canada. Swiftair Cargo went into receivership by May 1982.

By 1984 Conair had the world′s largest private fleet of Air Tankers including 50 fixed wing aircraft and 15 helicopters and by the early 1990s has grown to over 90 aircraft. Conair Aviation Ltd. later became Conair Group Inc, and they continue to be based out of Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Conair also previously converted several Fokker F27 Friendship turboprops for use as air tankers.

Conair′s tankers include Air Tractor AT-802F, and AT-802F Amphibious "Fireboss" variants, Convair CV580s, Conair Firecats (retrofitted S-2 Trackers), Douglas DC-6s (retired), Lockheed L188 Electra, and Canadair CL-215s. Conair′s headquarters are in Abbotsford at the Abbotsford International Airport which also is where their maintenance and retrofitting facility is located. Conair bases their aircraft under contract to fire control agencies throughout western Canada and the US.

Currently, Conair airtanker groups (a group consists of one birddog and from one to four airtankers) are contracted to agencies in BC, Alberta, Yukon and Alaska. Conair serves as the Canadian dealer for Olney, Texas-based Air Tractor, which produces the AT-802F, one of only three types of aircraft specifically designed for aerial firefighting (the others being the Canadair CL-215 and 415 models). Conair has announced that they have purchased an Avro RJ85 and will be converting it into a Type 1 3,000 US gal (2,500 imp gal; 11,000 l) air tanker.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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