The government of the province of Santiago del Estero, in northwestern Argentina, and Coulson Aviation USA, have signed the purchase of a Boeing 737-300 that will be converted into a firefighting aircraft, in what represents a historic operation for the country considering the size of the aircraft and the usual lack of firefighting equipment outside the federal orbit.

The acquisition of the aircraft received the green light a few days ago when the governor of the province, Gerardo Zamora, signed the decree allocating USD 15,000,000 to materialize it.

The Minister of Production, Miguel Mandrille, indicated to local media that the estimated time until the delivery of the Boeing 737 is around 12 months, during which the conversion works will be carried out.

The aircraft will be based at the airport of Las Termas de Río Hondo (RHD/SANH), 70 kilometers west of the provincial capital, where there will be a fast water intake, but it will also be able to operate at other airfields such as those of Quimilí and Monte Quemado.

Aeropuerto de Termas de Río Hondo

The Boeing 737 FireLiner (as Coulson Aviation calls it), is multitasking, being able to carry 15,150 liters of retardant or up to 72 passengers.

According to a Fire Aviation report, Coulson began the 737 conversions project in 2017 when it acquired six Boeing 737-300s from Southwest Airlines. It was the first company in the world to convert 737 aircraft to hydrants.

The same publication quotes Britton Coulson, president and COO, as saying that the agreement with Santiago del Estero is similar to the one they made in 2019 with New South Wales, Australia, where the state owns the aircraft but it is operated and maintained by Coulson Aviation USA, a subsidiary of a Canadian group founded in 1960.

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