The wreckage of the Russian air tanker that was reported missing in Siberia on July 1 has been found. Rescuers found the debris of the Ilyushin IL-76 plane at approximately 2 a.m. Moscow time in the Kachug District, 9 km southeast of the settlement of Rybny Uyan.
A photo posted by Федеральная Авиалесоохрана (@avialesookhrana) on
From the air the in the smoky conditions in the forest the only recognizable part of the aircraft was the tail.
Initially there were conflicting reports on the number of personnel on board, ranging from 9 to 11, but Russian authorities on Sunday confirmed there were 10. The remains of six and one flight recorder have been located. Marines are clearing an area to be used as a helispot.
Below is an excerpt from an article in the New Indian Express:
…A Russian aviation agencies source told TASS news agency that the plane most likely lost control because of interference from hot air from the wildfire that it was trying to douse with water.
“It’s possible that hot air from the wildfires got into the engines, the plane lost propulsion and could not gain altitude, hit the top of the trees and fell,” the source was quoted as saying.
The plane’s tail was discovered by another firefighter on today morning, said the Russian forestry agency’s aviation unit.
Last week another firefighter died on duty in Russia’s far-eastern Kamchatka region, the regional government revealed.
The forestry agency’s aviation unit said today that over 43 thousand hectares of forest land is burning in Russia, mostly in Siberia.
But Russia’s Greenpeace which monitors wildfires via satellite data said government figures are vastly underestimated, with 415 thousand hectares burning in Irkutsk region alone.
A very large air tanker that had been working on a wildfire in Siberia is missing. The IL-76, which can carry up to 11,574 U.S. gallons, had 11 on board, including “fire-fighting experts”, according to a report by Tass.
The air tanker departed at 5:34 a.m. Moscow time on Friday to assist firefighters on a fire in the Kachugsky district of the Irkutsk region. The crew did not make radio contact as planned at 6:30 a.m. Moscow time.
A search is underway assisted by two helicopters and an Antonov An-12 and An-26 of the Russian Aerospace Forces.
The crew members of the missing Il-76 plane are from Moscow and they have accumulated huge fire-fighting experience, a source in emergency services told TASS. “The crew members have a huge experience of fire-fighting operations, delivery of humanitarian relief supplies and other air rescue missions,” the source said.
Above: A Be-200ES rolls out for the public while another makes a demonstration water drop.
On Monday, May 30 the Beriev Aircraft Company rolled out the first Be-200ES firefighting aircraft produced at their Taganrog manufacturing facility. The versions introduced to the public yesterday have been “modernized”, according to the information from the company, with a reinforced airframe and upgraded avionics.
They expect to flight test and deliver two aircraft this year from the Taganrog factory, and by 2017 hope to produce four annually for the next five years. Orders have been placed by Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations for six Be-200ES aircraft to serve as air tankers, while the Russian Ministry of Defense ordered one Be-200ES capable of fighting fires and another four of the Be-200PS version that would serve other purposes.
Beriev has been manufacturing the Be-200 since 2003. The aircraft can land or take off on water or land, and the firefighting version can scoop water to refill its tanks. It can be converted to haul passengers or serve as a search and rescue aircraft, landing on water to retrieve victims if necessary.
Engines: two high-mounted turbo jet, D-436DTP
Max cruise speed: 700 km/h, 435 mph
Economic cruise speed: 560 km/h, 349 mph
Operational altitude: 8,000 m, 26,000 feet
Water tanks, maximum capacity: 12,000 liters, 3,170 gallons
Minimum speed while dropping: 200-250 km/h, 124-155 mph
Minimum drop height: 50 meters, 164 feet
Maximum wave height while scooping water: 1.2 m, 4 feet
They tried dropping from airplanes thin-walled glass spheres filled with water from the mid-1940s until 1953.
This is a post from an Instagram account that frequently reports on smokejumpers and other wildland firefighters in Russia. Dropping glass spheres filled with water to slow down a fire is new to me. I can understand why they shelved the idea in 1953.
An organization in Russia has created a helicopter bucket apparatus that creates medium expansion foam, with a volume many times greater than plain water or foam concentrate that is simply injected into water and dropped, forming some bubbles as it passes through the air.
The terminology translated from Russian is difficult to follow, for example, they call it a Helicopter Water Spillway Device.
Apparently the apparatus has water and foam concentrate tanks, and a motor, presumably for pumping water and/or powering fans. Fans may blow air into the water/foam stream to create the high-expansion foam.
The foam from one load can cover 1,000 to 1,500 square meters, or 0.25 to 0.37 acres.
It looks very complex and expensive, but it may have a use on wildland fires. A high-expansion foam fireline should be effective for a longer period of time than plain water dropped from a helicopter. Firefighters on the ground conducting burnouts and backfires could use it as a fireline.