Updated October 16, 2020 | 8:17 a.m. MDT
The first of six Erickson Air-Crane helicopters that will assist firefighters in Australia arrived at the Sydney airport October 12. “Gypsy Lady” was unloaded from an Antonov 124-100 after spending the summer fighting fires in Greece. It has since been reassembled and flown to Bankstown, New South Wales where it will begin its mandatory availability period on November 1.
The other five are also coming from Greece, but will be receiving less deluxe treatment lashed down inside the holds of ocean-going freighters like they were in April on the way from Australia to Greece.
Richard Alder, General Manager of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre in Australia, said on October 15 the positioning of the Air-Cranes will be the same as last year:
- Bankstown, New South Wales, HT730, N189AC, Gypsy Lady, starts 11/1/2020
- Bankstown, New South Wales, HT739, N247AC , Jerry, 12/1/2020
- Essendon, Victoria, HT341, N154AC, Georgia Peach, 12/2/2020
- Moorabbin, Victoria, HT342, N194AC, Delilah, 12/23/2020
- Brukunga (Adelaide Hills), So. Australia, HT743, N218AC, Elsie, 12/17/2020
- Serpentine (Perth), Western Australia, HT740, N243AC, Marty, 12/20/2020
There will also be three Sikorsky S-61N ships and a Sikorsky S-76B owned and operated by Coulson:
- Colac, Victoria
- Mansfield, Victoria
- Ballarat, Victoria; night-flying capable, along with the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter for night supervision and intelligence gathering.
In addition to the lineup for the Type 1 helicopters, there is news about a couple of smaller Type 2 helicopters in Australia. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) has purchased two new Bell 412 helicopters. One of them, like Gypsy Lady, received deluxe transportation (compared to a cargo ship) when a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A hauled it from Vancouver International Airport, Canada, to Richmond, NSW on September 15.
Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, based in Mirabel, Quebec since 1986 has manufactured more than 5,000 aircraft.