Coulson’s Air Tanker 132, known as “Thor” in Australia, began its bushfire season contract with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service at Sydney September 1. Shortly after being introduced to the media it was dispatched to a fire.
Another of their C-130’s, Tanker 131, will be heading down there later this year. It will be based in the state of Victoria.
Above: A DC-10 drops on a fire in Australia. New South Wales Rural Fire Service photo.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service apparently thinks their two year trial of two air tankers, a DC-10 and a C-130, was a success, and expect to keep using them for several more years.
The state of Victoria also has been using air tankers from North America during their down under summer for the last two years, an RJ85 and another C-130. Both states have been using single engine air tankers and helicopters for a long time to aid firefighters battling bush fires.
A coroner’s inquest found that an inadequate inspection contributed to the crash of an air tanker in New South Wales, Australia.
David Black, 43, died when his M18 Dromader single engine air tanker crashed while fighting a fire at Wirritin in Budawang National Park, 40 kilometers west of Ulladulla, October 24, 2013 when a wing snapped off the aircraft as it was approaching the fire. The crash started another bushfire which, along with high winds, hampered efforts to reach the pilot.
Below is an excerpt from an article at 9news:
[The aircraft] was tested and inspected just over two months earlier by two companies, Aviation NDT and Beal Aircraft Maintenance, but [Deputy State Coroner Derek] Lee said the work was inadequately done.
He wrote in his findings that testing by Aviation NDT used an unauthorised method and did not comply with the mandatory requirements of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Further, the plane’s wings were not removed during a visual inspection by Beal Aircraft Maintenance, meaning that corrosion and cracking on one of the left wing’s attachment lugs was not detected.
By the time Mr Black crashed in October, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found that cracking on the inner surface of the lug had reached a critical length of 10.4 millimetres and at least 32 secondary micro cracks were also identified.
The engineer behind the visual inspection, Donald Beal, told the inquest the manufacturer’s service bulletin did not mandate removal of the wings, so he didn’t see any need to remove them.
Mr Beal also said there was ambiguity about what visual inspections actually involved, Mr Lee recalled in his findings.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Chris. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
Above: The Carwoola Fire in New South Wales, Australia. Photo by NSW Rural Fire Service.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service sent out this Tweet February 17 (U.S. time):
The photo at the top of this article is an enlargement of the one in the tweet. It is interesting to see how the fire in some areas apparently burned into the retardant and stopped. However when this photo was taken it may have been creeping through a gap in the retardant. But since the RFS wrote that the fire was effectively stopped, the aircraft probably continued working on the fire after this photo was taken.
Four large and very large air tankers from North America have been on contract in New South Wales and Victoria during their down under summer — two C-130’s, an RJ85, and a DC-10. Australia also has numerous helicopters and single engine air tankers.
The map below shows lightning strikes and fires in NSW.
The fire was just a few miles from the DC-10’s base at Richmond, northwest of Sydney, New South Wales.
This infrared video, shot from a New South Wales Rural Fire Service aircraft, shows a DC-10 air tanker dropping on a wildfire in Australia. In the normal video the aircraft disappears in the smoke, but after switching to IR it can be seen again. The water or retardant it drops shows up as black, much cooler than the fire which is white.
In addition to the drop, there is fascinating IR footage of thousands of burning embers being blown downwind. A spot fire can be easily seen thanks to the IR soon after it starts. It later grows very large.
Above: Tanker 131 reunites with its sister aircraft, Tanker 132, in Avalon, Victoria. Coulson photo.
Coulson’s Tanker 131 arrived safely in Avalon, Victoria (map) on Sunday U.S. time after an uneventful flight. Its sister ship, Tanker 132, happened to be at Avalon when it landed.
The planned route for the C-130Q to Australia was for 27 flight hours, more than 7,000 miles, and four stops en route for fuel. When its 85-day contract with Emergency Management Victoria begins on December 15 the aircraft will be known as Bomber 390.
Tanker 132, a C-130H, has been in Australia since September 6, 2016. It just had its contract extended for another month and will continue to be based at Richmond RAAF base in New South Wales until mid-January. But like in the United States, the tankers are moved around as needed and shared between states.