Coulson: Global leaders in aerial firefighting

Coulson Aircrane Ltd. is Canadian aviation company that operates in North America, South America and Australia with a focus on aerial firefighting. 

Read how Coulson Aircrane Ltd. became the first Canadian company to join the Bolivian Government in their efforts to fight devastating forest fires in the Amazon rainforest.  

logo of Coulson Group, CCC customer

About Coulson

Originally founded in 1960 as Coulson Forest Products Ltd. In Port Alberni, B.C., this family business grew into a conglomerate of companies now known as the Coulson Group. Their industries include aviation, manufacturing, logging, dining, gaming and environmentally friendly cleaning technologies.  

Coulson Aircrane Ltd. (Coulson) was founded in 1985 under the Coulson Group which later expanded to Coulson Aviation USA and Coulson Aviation Australia. As a global aviation company and world leader in aerial firefighting and heavy lift operations, Coulson has a diverse fleet ranging from large air tankers to large helicopters. The company’s operations have included helicopter logging, forest fire suppression, power-line construction, airliner passenger, transport and many other industrial heavy lift operations. 

Crew members from Coulson Aviation prepare two Sikorsky S-61 helicopters at an airfield in Los Leones, Chihuahua, Mexico for an overseas flight to Bolivia, where they will be tasked to fight forest fires in the Amazon rainforests.

Crew members from Coulson Aviation prepare two Sikorsky S-61 helicopters at an airfield in Los Leones, Chihuahua, Mexico for overseas flight to Bolivia. Source: Coulson Group Ltd.

Coulson Chinook CH-46 releasing water for firefighting

 Source: Coulson Group Ltd.

G2G contract in Chiquitania Bolivia 

During the summer of 2019, Chiquitania, a region of tropical savannas in the Santa Cruz Department of Bolivia, located near the Bolivian Amazon rainforest was devastated by forest fires. As these major forest fires threatened the region, the Government of Bolivia called on Canada for an urgent solution. 

In September 2019, Coulson, in partnership with CCC, signed an agreement with the Bolivian government to assist with its firefighting efforts in Chiquitania.  

Coulson was contracted to supply eighteen crew members along with three helicopters, including two Sikorsky S-61 helicopters and a custom Chinook CH-47D, to Bolivia to provide aerial firefighting capabilities. CCC actioned a contract in one week, allowing Coulson to become the first Canadian company to send aircraft to help fight the Amazon fires.  

Meeting an urgent need

The urgent need for support in Bolivia was facilitated through CCC’s unique government to government contracting mechanism which enabled Coulson to mitigate business risks, respond to an urgent environmental and humanitarian need and build on their existing business relationship with Bolivia. 

The facilitation of this transaction through the government to government contracting mechanism enabled Coulson to mitigate business risks, respond to an urgent environmental and humanitarian need and build on their existing business relationship with Bolivia. 

“We are honored that the Bolivian Government had chosen to work with Coulson Aviation in order to help offer support during their time of crisis.”

G2G contract in Argentina

In 2023, Coulson Aviation was contracted to provide aerial firefighting support services to Argentina’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MAyDS) via a $6.8 million dollar G2G contract.

Under the contract, a Coulson CH-47 helitankers was available for a four-month period to meet any of the country’s urgent and large-scale fire fighting needs. The aircraft is one of the fastest and offers the ability to drop 10,000 liters (3,000 US gallons) of water or retardant on a single pass. It has been deployed in many regions for its wildfire fighting capabilities, including Chile and the United States.

Source: Coulson Aviation

Coulson helicopter spraying water at night

 Source: Coulson Group Ltd. 

 Source: Coulson Group Ltd. (Youtube)

Other Successes

Coulson are world leaders in aerial firefighting innovation, providing meticulously serviced aircraft in order to safely and efficiently attack fires 24/7. Some of their other recent success stories include firefighting missions in California, Idaho, British Columbia, Chile, and Australia. Their aviation team has also provided alternative forms of assistance over the years including providing flood assistance.  

Leaders in technology and innovation 

Coulson Aviation is currently the most innovative aerial firefighting company in the world with accomplishments including:  

  • World’s first 737 modification to FIRELINER™ 
  • Creator of RADS™ (Retardant Aerial Delivery System) technology 
  • First aerial firefighting NVG (Night Vision Goggles) technology 
  • First secondary supervision helicopter FIREWATCH™ program 
  • First use of night thermal imaging and laser-guided drop zone technology 
  • Creator of the QRF aerial firefighting program 

Night aerial firefighting

As global leaders in firefighting aviation, Coulson has also become the most innovative night aerial firefighting company in the world. 

They recently established night firefighting operations in Australia and California. Their pilots employ night vision technology (NVG), allowing their attack crews to hover fill from open water sources and carry out pinpoint fire suppression using laser guided drop technology. This dramatically speeds up firefighting and improves the safety and efficiency of operations.  

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About CCC

The Canadian Commercial Corporation is a federal crown corporation and is only the Canadian agency that offers commercial advocacy, collaborative project development, and international contracting expertise to help Canadian businesses secure contracts with foreign governments at the national, state, and municipal level.


Our International Prime Contractor is a fee-based program where we sign government to government (G2G) contracts with foreign government buyers for the sale of Canadian solutions. 

Our U.S. DoD Prime Contractor program is a free program funded by the Government of Canada and supported by the U.S. Government, to help Canadians sell their products, services and solutions to the U.S. military. To learn more about CCC and how we can help you, contact us.

Last updated: June 2023

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