A new water-scooping air tanker has arrived in Saskatchewan, just in time for wildfire season.

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) has invested in a CL-215T air tanker to provide a stronger wildfire response in the province. The CL-215T will replace the obsolete CL-215 in the SPSA's aerial wildfire suppression fleet. The new aircraft is a modernized model of the one it's replacing.

"Our government's strategic investment into our air operations protects the people, property and resources of Saskatchewan," Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell said. "The investment of $37.3 million will allow our responders to better protect, lives, communities, major infrastructure and other values."

The new tanker will join a fleet of air tankers and bird-dog planes as part of its wildfire and grassfire fire response program. 

"Aircrafts play an important role in Saskatchewan's wildfire management program," SPSA President and Fire Commissioner Marlo Pritchard said. "With the 2023 wildfire season just beginning, an expansion of the fleet means that wildfire responders and resources will be strengthened when protecting our province, especially in the north." 

The new aircraft was purchased and refurbished by De Havilland Aircraft of Canada.

"De Havilland Canada is proud to work with the Government of Saskatchewan in its continued efforts to combat wildfires and grassfires," De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited Vice President - Technical Services Al Young said. "This aircraft represents a lot of hard work and dedication from both our employees and the SPSA. Together we are putting into Saskatchewan's skies another important example of Canada's global leadership in special-mission aircraft that protect people, property and communities."

Peter Boniface, the executive director of aviation operations with the agency, says it is able to take on water quicker and fly faster than the older models.

The CL-215T can reach speeds of approximately 329 KPH and collect 1,200 gallons of water for an open water source in about 10 seconds. 

The SPSA is a Treasury Board Crown that provides public safety services including fire safety training, investigation, emergency planning, response, recovery and emergency communications. The Agency operates Sask911, SaskAlert and the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre.