Four million dollars will buy a pretty impressive helicopter these days.
Wisk Air Helicopters is hoping their new Bell 412 helicopter, one of just 12 in Canada, can play a vital role in opening up the Ring of Fire.
The Northern Ontario company, which unveiled the aircraft on Friday afternoon at its Thunder Bay International Airport headquarters, intend to use the helicopter for firefighting, supporting essential hydro services and first response.
“It is huge investment for Wisk Air, and this helicopter will support both regional business needs and essential services related to community safety, emergency response, fire suppression, and power line construction/maintenance,” said Wisk Air Helicopters president Mark Wiskemann, in a release issued by the company.
Nicknamed Big Bird by company staff, thanks to a bright-yellow paint job, the latest addition to Wisk Air’s fleet features two engines and can lift up to 4,500 pounds. It can travel up to speeds of 260 kilometres per hour and seat 14 passengers, ideal for larger crews.
“The Bell 412 is the largest helicopter based in Northwestern Ontario, offering new capacity for the tough jobs in our region. Equipped with state-of-the-art Fast Fin technology, this helicopter clearly demonstrates Wisk-Air’s ongoing commitment to innovation and customer service,” said the airport’s interim president and chief executive officer, Ed Schmidtke.
“The Airport Authority is proud of its longstanding relationship with Wisk Air, and we wish them every success with their new machine.”
Wisk Air has 14 signed agreements with First Nations in Northern Ontario and has been operating helicopters in the region for 35 years.