N.L. floating sale of damaged water bomber, hopes to scoop up $22M

·2 min read
The Newfoundland and Labrador government currently has a fleet of four water bombers to help fight fires. Officials say that number of planes is meeting the needs of the province. (Submitted by Bruce Mactavish - image credit)
The Newfoundland and Labrador government currently has a fleet of four water bombers to help fight fires. Officials say that number of planes is meeting the needs of the province. (Submitted by Bruce Mactavish - image credit)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is approaching a decision about what to do with a damaged water bomber that's been out of service for nearly four years.

"It hasn't been sold off, but we are in the process of looking at selling it," Transportation Minister Elvis Loveless told a legislative committee meeting earlier this month.

"So it's still in that stage of assessment."

Things are far enough along that $22 million in potential revenue has shown up in government financial estimates for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

"That's revenue projection for sale of the damaged water bomber," Loveless told the committee.

The minister was questioned on the topic by NDP MHA Jordan Brown and Tory MHA Barry Petten.

The water bomber in question was damaged in September 2018.

It hit a rock while fighting a fire on the Burin Peninsula, then minister Steve Crocker said in 2019.

Insurance wasn't an option, because a previous crash in the fleet saw the province's deductible shoot up to $10 million — in the same ballpark as the estimated repair bill.

'Make sure that we achieve best value'

The idea of selling the damaged aircraft has been floated for the past couple of years.

In October 2020, then minister Derrick Bragg told MHAs, "It's probably going to be up for sale."

There was a similar message in a House committee meeting in June 2021.

"I think the expectation is, right now, that we will be disposing of the fifth aircraft and we're working through, I guess, to make sure that we achieve best value in terms of disposing of that asset," deputy minister Cory Grandy said at the time.

It's not clear how, or when, the sale process will proceed. Transportation Department officials did not accept interview requests from CBC News and did not provide any further information.

The water bomber fleet has been down to four aircraft since the fifth was grounded by that accident in 2018.

Officials said it will stay that way.

"The four has certainly met our needs," Loveless told the House committee this month.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting