Martin Mars Could be Flying by Later This Week

  • Jul 6, 2015 4:53pm GMT

The Coulson Group, operators of the world's largest privately flown water bomber, are being considered for a contract with the Province of British Columbia for use of the Hawaii Mars.

"We have notified the province of our rates and we now have a contract in place and we are waiting for government to order the Mars up," said CEO Wayne Coulson.

"The earliest we told them is most likely a Thursday start depending how many days they take to decide."

Earlier reports falsely claimed a contract had been signed. Currently Coulson does have an ongoing contract for the use of their helicopter services.

“We provided the information to them, and that’s where it’s at,” Coulson said. “We’re watering the Mars tomorrow morning and we’re going to start test flying it.”

The Martin Mars owned by the Coulson Group have been in a tug-of-war of sorts regarding where they should eventually be retired. Hopefully this will postpone the discussion for a bit as they concentrate on keeping them flying first!

Additional Information on the Martin Mars aircraft:

A record number of fires continue to burn out west. There has been some controversy about using the giant Martin Mars. Here are some interesting comments from the B.C. government on their airtanker fleet and the Martin Mars.

    • It's important to note that aircraft do not put out wildfires, ground crews do. Many airtankers can drop long-term fire retardant on a wildfire to slow its growth and allow ground crews to safely contain it.
    • The Martin Mars cannot drop long-term fire retardant, which is critical in B.C.'s terrain and firefighting conditions.
    • Because of its size, the Martin Mars can only land on and scoop up water from about 113 bodies of water in B.C.
    • From 2007 to 2013, the Martin Mars was only deployed on 20 wildfires, or about 0.5 per cent of the 3,476 airtanker missions flown during that period (at a cost of about $4.8 million).
    • When drawing a comparison between the Martin Mars and the Fire Bosses (aircraft) that worked the fires in Kelowna in 2003 and in West Kelowna in 2014 respectively, the Fire Bosses delivered more volume and were more cost-effective than the Martin Mars. On the Smith Creek fire (West Kelowna), the Province's Fire Boss group dropped 586,000 litres over 11.3 hours, at a cost of $0.19 per litre. In contrast, on the 2003 Kelowna fire, the Martin Mars dropped 690,000 litres over 28 hours at a cost of $0.63 per litre. The suppressant delivery rate for Fire Bosses in West Kelowna was twice that of the Martin Mars in Kelowna.
    • Over the past six weeks, the new Fire Boss aircraft have actioned more fires than the Martin Mars did in six years.
    • There is only one Martin Mars in B.C. The mechanical failure rate of the piston engines used by the Martin Mars is much greater than that of modern turbine engines.
    • Because of its relatively slow airspeed and large size, the Martin Mars is more difficult to integrate into B.C.'s firefighting operations, including close air support for firefighters on the ground.
    • The Martin Mars' large drop pattern can sometimes make it unsafe to use when providing close air support for ground crews. Firefighters on the ground have to stop work until drops are completed, which may increase the risk of a fire escaping during the critical initial attack stage.
    • Although the Martin Mars has a tank capacity of 27,250 litres, the average drop volume is 19,000 litres with an average turnaround time of 19 minutes. The average turnaround time for the Fire Bosses is seven minutes.