Australia gearing up air assets for bushfire season

T162 arriving Avalon
Tanker 162, an RJ-85, arrives at Avalon, Victoria, Australia December 7, 2014. Photo by Mike Austin.

Contracted aerial firefighting assets are arriving in Victoria for the Australian bushfire season. Conair’s Tanker 162, an RJ-85, arrived on December 7. Coulson’s C-130Q is expected to be there by Monday night local time, December 8. They will be based at the Avalon Airport in Victoria.

As usual, two of Coulson’s S61 helicopters will be on contract, beginning December 17 this year. One of them was in storage over the winter at Essendon Airport. The other was seen December 8 being trucked from Port Melbourne to Essendon.

Two Erickson Air-Crane helicopters are being contracted through Kestrel Aviation in Victoria for service in the state.

New South Wales had two Air-Cranes delivered by an Antonov cargo aircraft on October 4. Those two helicopters are “Gypsy Lady” and “Ichabod”; their contract started on October 6.

(UPDATED at 8 p.m. MST December 7, to provide more detailed information about the helicopters, and the ETA of the C-130Q.)

More details about the aviation assets to be available for the 2014/2015 bushfire season in Victoria.

3 thoughts on “Australia gearing up air assets for bushfire season”

  1. Hi Bill,

    I’m not directly involved in the fire fighting community .. just a certifiable airplane not .. but I’ve been watching the “airways” for some time since you first wrote some articles regarding Austraila beefi9ng up tanker asets for their major fire season.

    I was pretty sure the helicopters would have to go by ship, but I was wondering how the relatively short range fixed wing asets were going to commute to their (Australian) summer jobs.

    Here’s how Tanker 162 got there:

    01-Dec-2014 Abbotsford (CYXX) Oakland Intl (KOAK) 20:50 23:12 2:22
    02-Dec-2014 Oakland Intl (KOAK) Honolulu Intl (PHNL) 17:08 23:30 6:22
    04-Dec-2014 Honolulu Intl Marshall Islands Int’l 1 9:12 02:30 7:18
    05-Dec-2014 Marshall Islands (PKMJ) Honiara Int’l 20:35 00:15 3:40
    06-Dec-2014 Honiara Int’l (AGGH / HIR) Cairns Int’l 01:39 04:40 3:01
    06-Dec-2014 Cairns Int’l (YBCS) Avalon (YMAV) 23:09 02:33 3:24

    A couple weeks back I watched two of the Air Tractor SEAT’s follow essentialy the same route from Abbotsford to Ballarat. It takes them a little longer .. about 40 hours total time in the air, twice as many as the RJ-85.

    And, as I just went to Flightware.com (where I got he data above) to check on some times, I saw that N130FF, Coulson’s C-130Q has come across the about the same way and is just about two hours out of Avalaon, as of 0719 GMT, 8 Dec 2014.

    And a couple weeks back I “watched” two of the leased SEAT’s follow almost the same route.

  2. Those pilots that make a living ferrying single/light twins across several thousands miles of ocean would make a good episode for discovery channel, different breed. Oakland to Hawaii is the longest over water route in the world. In addition they are usually ‘bucking” a head wind most of the way. SEAT, a little more interesting perspective, 15 to 18 hours non stop (hopefully). Eat your heart out Airbus 330.

  3. There will be two more Cranes for a total of six. One more in South Australia (near Adelaide) and one on the west coast near Perth. All Cranes are contracted through Kestrel.

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