Another Avro RJ85 air tanker has arrived in Australia for their summer bushfire season. Conair’s Tanker 166, named Hunter, was officially greeted by Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and others on November 5 a few days after it began assisting firefighters on a fire near Tamworth.
The crash occurred on the New South Wales South Coast, August 17
The pilot was killed when the helicopter he was flying crashed while fighting a wildfire in New South Wales on the South Coast. Reportedly the aircraft hit a tree while conducting water dropping operations on the Kingiman Fire west of Ulladulla. Video from local TV stations showed the wreckage near a structure.
The pilot, Allan Tull (Tully) died at the scene. His employer, Sydney Helicopters, wrote in a release:
Tully had a wealth of aerial firefighting experience and his aviation knowledge and skills were of the highest standard. He was regarded as one of the most experienced fire bombing pilots in the industry.
He will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues at this difficult time.
Sydney Helicopters is the longest running commercial helicopter operator in Sydney, with aircraft housed at Parramatta Heliport.
The helicopter, a 1994 Kawasaki BK117, was under contract with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service to fight fires.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Isaac. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
Above: A DC-10 drops on the Masonite Road Fire in New South Wales. Screengrab from video by Raymond Terrace Fire & Rescue.
Check out these videos of a DC-10 dropping on the Masonite Road Fire near the Newcastle Airport in New South Wales. The fire burned 2,300 hectares (5,683 acres). The airport was closed at times due to degraded visibility caused by the smoke.
Advice: Masonite Rd Fire.
Richardson Road is now OPEN between Medowie Rd and Grahamstown Rd. Crews continue to backburn on the northern side of airport. #NSWRFSpic.twitter.com/KsRbmRlWSM
Also known in Australia as Bomber 912, or “Nancy Bird”.
Above: File photo of Air Tanker 912, a DC-10, making a quick orbit over the Indian Canyon Fire to check out the last of two drops the aircraft had just made just after sunset near Edgemont, South Dakota July 17, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
Air Tanker 912 is beginning its contract with New South Wales in Australia, working out of Richmond. The NSW Rural Fire Service produced this video featuring pilot Captain R. K. Smithley giving us a tour of the huge 11,600-gallon capacity aircraft. (If you are having trouble seeing the video you can view it at YouTube.
Four large North American air tankers will be in Australia during their 2017-2018 summer.
Again for the Australian bushfire season four large air tankers are migrating from North America to assist the firefighters down under. During the 2017-2018 summer there will be one DC-10 from 10 Tanker Air Carrier, one RJ85 from Conair/Field Air, and two C-130’s from Coulson — plus a couple of Coulson S-61 Type 1 helicopters.
The contracts for the aircraft have different mandatory availability periods. One of the C-130’s has been there for a while. For the last couple of Australian summers Conair and Field Air collaborated to bring an RJ85 from Canada to Australia, and they will have one there again. Jeff Berry of Conair said it will ferry there in late November for their contract that begins in mid-December. In 2014-2015 it worked until March, 2015.
The video below was not shot in Australia, however, it’s interesting seeing seeing an RJ85 airliner converted into an air tanker.
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.