Above: Conair’s Tanker 162, an RJ85 at Avalon Airport, Victoria, Australia.
The Country Fire Authority currently has one very large and three large air tankers on contract during their summer bushfire season working out of Avalon Airport near Melbourne, Australia (map). The down under fire season will likely be winding down soon and the aircraft will migrate back to North America.
In recent weeks the air tankers were deployed across the Bass Strait to Tasmania. This may have been the first time large aerial firefighting assets were used in the state. The Fire Service felt it was necessary to warn the residents to “not be alarmed” when they saw the air tankers “flying a bit low over the coast”.
Photos provided by the Country Fire Authority, Victoria.
It must have been a slow day at the air tanker base at the Avalon Airport (map) near Melbourne, New South Wales, Australia. Yes, in the screen grab above that is Phos-Chek loader Henry Ring playing a bagpipe while standing in the door of Conair’s RJ85.
Several large air tankers from North America have been on contract with the states of New South Wales and Victoria during their 2015/2016 summer bushfire season and have been staged at Avalon recently. In the video, uploaded to YouTube by Steve Forbes, you’ll see the inside and outside of the RJ85, one of 10 Tanker’s DC-10s, and at least one of the two Coulson C-130s, plus some bird dogs or lead planes.
The RJ-85 has a unique way of waving at the camera.
Mr. Forbes described the video:
In 2015/16 many air and ground personnel including aviation industry professionals, fire agency staff & volunteers and contract ground crews worked hard everyday of the Australian summer making sure the Large (and very large) Air tankers could be at the ready to protect the Australian communities. This is a tribute to these crews.
Bushfires that have been raging across northwest Tasmania for several weeks are still causing great concern in the island state south of Australia.
Three air tankers from North America that have been working in Australia during their summer bushfire season have been recently deployed to Tasmania, including a DC-10, Avro RJ85, and a C-130. This may be the first time large aerial firefighting assets have been used in the state. The Fire Service felt it was necessary to warn the residents to “not be alarmed” when they saw the air tankers “flying a bit low over the coast”.
Known in the United States as Air Tanker 132 and down under as “Thor”, it is seen in this video posted by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service building retardant line out ahead of the Terraborra North Fire in the Hawkesbury local government area.
Air Tanker 131 (N130FF), Coulson’s C-130Q, arrived in Hawaii on Thursday after completing the first leg of its trip to Victoria, Australia. It is under contract with Emergency Management Victoria for their summer bushfire season, along with Conair’s Tanker 162, an RJ85, (N355AC).
Tanker 131 just received a new retardant tank and a redesigned “Next Gen Smart Controller” to operate the retardant delivery system.
The newer tank holds about 500 gallons more than the original tank and should enable an average retardant load of 4,200 USG and a maximum capacity of about 4,500 USG, according to Britt Counson. Tanker 132, an L-382G, also has the new version of the tank system.
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.
Coulson’s Tanker 132, known in Australia as “Thor”, has arrived in Palembang, Indonesia with a lead plane (in smoky conditions) to assist with the numerous large fires in the area. Local crews are preparing it for water dropping missions northeast of Palembang.
The photos were supplied by Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, which has the air tanker under contract during the Australian summer but has loaned it to Indonesia for a week or so.
Josh Annas took these photos of air tankers that were working out of Union County Airport in La Grande, Oregon (map) between July 20 and 24. The aircraft were working the Blue Creek Fire in the southwest corner of Washington.
Aaron tells us that on July 23, 13,000 gallons of Jet A fuel was used.