Aviation firm considering move to Grand Junction

Kelly Sloan
Kelly Sloan

Kelly Sloan, The Business Times

A Canadian company could expand its aerial firefighting services with operations based out of the Grand Junction Regional Airport.

Representatives of Coulson Aviation, a division of the Coulson Group based in British Columbia, have been meeting with representatives of the state government to discuss establishing a base of operations in Colorado.

State Sen. Steve King, a Republican from Grand Junction, has been involved in those discussions.

King said Wayne Coulson, chief executive officer of Coulson, is interested in the idea of a Colorado center for firefighting excellence and “sees the benefit of being in Colorado.”

Coulson Aviation officials confirmed the company is engaged in talks with the state and considering establishing a base in Colorado, but that no formal decision yet has been made.

Coulson Aviation operates a fleet of Sikorsky lift helicopters and fixed wing water bombers.  The company provides helicopters to suppress fires and transport  firefighters and has a contract with the U.S. Forest Service to  provide a next generation air tanker based on the company’s system to convert C-130 military transport aircraft for fire suppression.

“It makes sense for them to want to be in the middle of federally owned land to help with their USFS contract,” King said of a move to Colorado.

Company officials have expressed interest in Mesa County and specifically the Grand Junction Regional Airport, King said.

“Anybody that is interested in bringing jobs to the region should take a hard look at Coulson and the potential of its aviation division moving to Colorado. New entities and new industries in Mesa County are very welcome,” he said.

King said the move could bring a number of highly technical jobs to the region. “Coulson is on the cutting edge of wildfire technology and suppression. I am extremely excited about the potential to create a robust local economy based on developing that cutting edge technology to deal with wildfires.”

Coulson provides services on an international sale. When the United States isn’t in fire season, the company sends aircraft to Australia to help put out fires there.

King said if Coulson does set up a division in Colorado, it’s committed to becoming a Colorado company, not a Canadian company doing business in Colorado. “They are prepared to make a commitment to our state,” he said.