The two large air tankers that are on contract in Victoria, Australia made their first down under retardant drops on a fire December 16. Conair’s RJ-85 and Coulson’s C-130Q each made one drop on a wildfire near the town of Wodonga in northeast Victoria, with both of them putting about an hour and a quarter on their hours meter. These photos were taken by Micheal Austin as the retardant-stained aircraft were returning and landing at Avalon.
The photo of the RJ-85 above shows a retardant stain coming from what appears to be a small orifice high up on the rear section of the bolt-on tank, which could be some sort of overflow function. (Click on the photos to see larger versions.)
The Border Mail has some fascinating photos of the fire, including many shots with lightning in the background.
As we reported earlier, at 10 a.m. local time on Tuesday the two air tankers and seven other firefighting aircraft were formally introduced to the Australian media. Both the RJ-85 and the C-130 made demonstration drops with water. A few hours later in the early afternoon they were dispatched to the fire near Wodonga.
Below is an excerpt from ABC, reporting on the introduction of the large air tankers:
…Two Canadian water bombing aircraft doing a practice run for the media at Avalon Airport were called in to help fight the blaze.
The Hercules and RJ tankers can hold more than 12,000 litres of water or fire retardant, which is almost double the capacity of the largest water bombers used last year.
Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the two tankers would be crucial to firefighting this summer because they can fly longer distances.
“They’ll be based at Avalon but they can reach either ends of the state,” he said.
“[They can go] over to Mallacoota or across into the far south-west in around 30 minutes, so their flying time is quite significant.”
Conair is in partnership with the Australian company Field Air in making the RJ-85 aircraft available in Australia. They have launched a Facebook page dedicated to the RJ-85 in Australia, and posted a video that details the development of the air tanker.