Beginning December 1 they expect to have the same types of aircraft that they employed in the 2014/2015 bushfire season — one of Conair’s RJ85s, and Coulson’s Tanker 131, a C-130Q (known in Australia as Bomber 390).
The RJ85, N355AC, is en route now island hopping across the Pacific after departing Abbotsford, British Columbia at 2:04 p.m. MST on November 14. When heard from last, it left Guadalcanal Nov. 17 at 3:03 p.m. MST on its final leg and was due in Australia Nov. 17 at 8:52 p.m. MST, a six-hour flight. Last year because of the limited range of the RJ85, they used fuel bladders for the multi-day trip.
Coulson’s Tanker 131 (N130FF) is getting a new 4,000 USG tank and Smart Controller upgrade and is expected to depart for Australia by the end of next week.
During the 2014/2015 fire season the two air tankers completed 81 drops of fire retardant on fires in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
New South Wales already has two air tankers on duty, T-910 (N612AX) a DC-10 operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier, and Coulson’s Tanker 132, an L-382G (N405LC) which is a civilian stretched version of a C-130.