(UPDATED at 8:49 p.m. MT [USA] January 28, 2019)
9 News has an update on the crash. Video shows the Air-Crane on its side with a portion of the tail boom and main landing gear protruding above the water. Also the white skimming tube is visible which can be lowered as the helicopter flies near the surface of a body of water, using the same principle to refill the tank as the Be-200, Fire Boss, and CL-215/415. Drafting or skimming with the Air-Crane takes 45 seconds. It is unlikely that the aircraft was skimming when the accident occurred due to the lack of sufficient space. The Air-Crane also has a snorkel or drafting hose that is more often used for refilling while hovering over water.
Below is an excerpt from an article at ABC News Australia that was updated Monday evening, US time:
Five similar Air-Cranes — in NSW, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria — were grounded while the crash was investigated.
Kestrel Aviation managing director Ray Cronin, whose company manages the fleet, said the ground was a “precautionary measure” while the company interviewed the crew and determined a probable cause.
He said after an initial investigation, the company and authorities had agreed that the grounding of the Aircrane fleet would be lifted.
“The Aircranes will return to service almost immediately,” Mr Cronin said.
“The crews are with the aircraft ready to rejoin the fire fight in Victoria.”
He said while he did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) investigation, he understood “the serviceability of the Aircrane” was good at the time of the crash.
(Originally published at 12:47 MT [USA] January 28, 2019)
A helicopter crashed into a lake while fighting a wildfire Monday in Victoria, Australia. The Erickson Air-Crane had a crew of three, two pilots and an engineer, while it was working on the Thomson Complex Catchment fires in Gippsland. The personnel are safe after swimming to shore. Ambulance Victoria will assess the crew members. Emergency Management Victoria said the helicopter was Air-Crane HT 341, known as “Christine”.
The aircraft was one of ten aircraft working on the fire. The site of the crash, in the Yarra Ranges National Park, is about 50km (31 miles) south of Benalla.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said that he was grateful that the crew are safe.
The Flight Safety Foundation reports the helicopter is “damaged beyond repair”.
The two Air-Cranes under contract in Victoria can carry more than 2,500 gallons of water or retardant. The state also has 47 other aircraft on contract.
A total of six large fixed wing air tankers from North America have been working in Australia during their 2018-2019 summer. Tankers with their primary base at Richmond, New South Wales include a RJ85, (Tanker 166); a 737 (T-137); a C-130Q (T-134); and another RJ85 (T-165). Based at Avalon in Victoria are a C-130Q (T-131); and an RJ85 (T-163).
BREAKING: A fire bombing aircraft has crashed into a dam at Jericho in Victoria’s Yarra Ranges, forcing three firefighters to escape and swim to safety. @cassiezervos #TheLatest #7News pic.twitter.com/nuOxu10Lq6
— 7 News Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) January 28, 2019
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Doug and Tom. Typos or errors, report them HERE.