bthebest
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Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:00 am

With temperatures of 40C+ in some places, Australia is in the midst of one of its hottest seasons on history, and along with that are the very severe wildfires. Currently some 120 fires including 30 uncontained in NSW, as well as others in Victoria and Tasmania. Best of luck to all involved.

My question: what aircraft are currently involved in the firefighting effort? As far as I can tell none of the DC-10/747 tankers appear to be on scene?
 
Gemuser
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:44 am

Quoting bthebest (Thread starter):
My question: what aircraft are currently involved in the firefighting effort? As far as I can tell none of the DC-10/747 tankers appear to be on scene?

Believe it or not there are NO fixed wing fire fighting aircraft in Australia bigger than a Piper PA25/Cessna188. There are also a number of Skycrane helicopters in use.

Why we don't have a fleet of CL-415s or similar I chalk up to political incompetence.

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bthebest
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:47 pm

I can imagine an aircraft which can do multiple drops in one flight would be useful? Using small fixed-wing and helos is quite inefficient for lots of fires, having to go back and resupply whilst large DC-10 types might be overkill for small fires and takes even longer to refill.
 
ZuluAlpha
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:15 pm

I found this YouTube Link


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kdcIbWYEWI

Where it showed that the Victorian Government did look at the DC-10 water bomber back in 2010. It talks about how quickly it can refuel and it's other capabilities.

I guess they didn't go ahead with it.
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Quokkas
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:38 pm

One of the problems is that in Australia, except for a few locations, there are no expanses of open water that would allow for a sizeable fleet of larger water bombers.

Here in Western Australia laws are in place allowing helitacs to collect water from sources found on private residential and commercial land. Fresh water is sourced from lakes, dams, streams, reservoirs and portable collar tanks from points that offer safe and clear entry and exit paths free from infrastructure and obstructions. Salt water/ sea water is not used as spray leaves residue on the helicopters mechanical components and interferes with visibility compromising the safety of the crew.

Water sources need to be chosen based on proximity to the incident, access to the water source, visibility, level and suitability of water available with little or no potential risk to public spectators. The safety of the operators is also a prime consideration.

Helitacs are unable to collect water from domestic (residential) swimming pools as a 100 metre clearance is required for approach and take-off as the helicopters create substantial rotor wash and dangerous turbine heat emissions that present a risk to people and property.

The above considerations limit the areas in which they can be effectively used so they are mainly deployed in the Perth Metropolitan Region and the South West of the State and in around major centres elsewhere. Outside of the settled districts, apart from some back-burning and clearing firebreaks, the fires are sometimes left to burn out themselves simply due to a lack of accessible water, equipment and man-power.

As far as I am aware the current available aircraft for fighting bush fires in Western Australia includes two Sikorsky S61 Helitacs (known as Type 1s with 3,750 litre water lifting capacity), four Eurocopter AS350-B3 Squirrel Helitacs (or Type 3s with 1,100 litre water lifting capacity), a Eurocopter AS350-B2 intelligence gathering helicopter to provide fire mapping information to incident controllers, eight fixed wing water bombing aircraft, nine Scout spotter aircraft, and an Erickson Air Crane. The helitacs can also be used for ferrying fire crews and cargo.
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Gemuser
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:03 pm

Quoting Quokkas (Reply 4):
One of the problems is that in Australia, except for a few locations, there are no expanses of open water that would allow for a sizeable fleet of larger water bombers.

NOT true! That's the stupid point of fire fighting aircraft not really being used in this country.

Most of the population live within 100 to 200 km of the coast where there is plenty of water. Ok so its salt water but the CL-415 is built for that, the Italians, at least, scoop from the Med with them. True, that would require more maintenance, but the expertise is available and the cost of it compared to the loss from the fires would be minor. Another factor is that the CL-415 is not an open water flying boats, but there are plenty of bays, inlets, harbours & estuaries to use. Or we could look seriously at the Russian Breiv boats, they are open water boats.

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Quokkas
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:28 am

Sometimes, even if you have the equipment, you can't use it due to the risk to the aircraft and crew. A problem faced by fire fighters is that one blaze is threatening the Tianjara plateau, which was used by the Army as a practice bombing range for 30 years until the mid-1970s. There is believed to be a lot of unexploded ordnance scattered through the area.

Quote:
Brett Loughlin from the Rural Fire Service (RFS) says unexploded bombs would make it impossible to fight a fire.

"We can't do any water-bombing with aircraft or something like that in case the weight of the water when it hits the ground sets off any unexploded ordnance," he said.

"So it's a total no-fly zone and that will mean [if] the fire gets into that area, there's nothing we can do for it except wait for it on the other side.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-1...-near-unexploded-bomb-site/4459658
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:21 am

Quoting gemuser (Reply 5):

NOT true! That's the stupid point of fire fighting aircraft not really being used in this country.

Most of the population live within 100 to 200 km of the coast where there is plenty of water.

We lost 260 homes in my neighborhood this past June to fire. Based on speed and fueling, those bombers would be able to do 4-6 drops per day each. The fire crews would be better off pissing on the fire.

We had CV-580s, SEATs and C-130s with MAFFS doing drops, as well as Skycranes and Kmax based within 10km, and the fire still blew through firelines. If you're talking 100km+ then those assets are more than useless.
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thegeek
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:53 am

Much of the population of Australia lives within 50km of the coast. Brisbane's west probably containing a sizeable portion of those further away.
 
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EK413
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:42 am

Quoting bthebest (Thread starter):
With temperatures of 40C+ in some places, Australia is in the midst of one of its hottest seasons on history, and along with that are the very severe wildfires. Currently some 120 fires including 30 uncontained in NSW, as well as others in Victoria and Tasmania. Best of luck to all involved.

My question: what aircraft are currently involved in the firefighting effort? As far as I can tell none of the DC-10/747 tankers appear to be on scene?

Reality is the fact the high temperature's last 3-4 months if your lucky and that is a hefty investment to have an aircraft sitting around the remaining 8-9 months... The Australian government do a matter of fact lease fire fighting helicopters, one very well known as "Elvis" the helitanker & friends...

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/vic...eason/story-e6frf7kx-1226532442360

Makes sense to lease an aircraft than invest if you want my opinion...

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qf002
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:13 am

Quoting Quokkas (Reply 4):
One of the problems is that in Australia, except for a few locations, there are no expanses of open water that would allow for a sizeable fleet of larger water bombers.

  

Quoting gemuser (Reply 5):
Most of the population live within 100 to 200 km of the coast where there is plenty of water
Quoting thegeek (Reply 8):
Much of the population of Australia lives within 50km of the coast.

Irrelevant. The most destructive fires are away from the heavily populated coastal areas, in rural areas where the vast expanses of grass and bush exist. I've just seen on the news that the choppers can fill up at dams and rivers up to 20 times an hour -- far more efficient than making long trips to/from large expanses of water.

The existing aircraft are far more versatile, and are useful in a wider range of situations. They're also more useful outside fire season, in storms, floods etc.
 
thegeek
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:54 am

Quoting qf002 (Reply 10):
Irrelevant. The most destructive fires are away from the heavily populated coastal areas,

Not convinced. These bush fires might burn vast swathes of bush, but how much value is destroyed by them? Not nearly as much as burning down homes on the edge of suburbia.
 
strangr
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:28 am

Quoting thegeek (Reply 11):
Not convinced. These bush fires might burn vast swathes of bush, but how much value is destroyed by them? Not nearly as much as burning down homes on the edge of suburbia.

The Skycrane has i believe been used in Victoria for many years. For our area (king Lake for example) the nearest airport that could handle a large plane for this would be tulla. The Skycranes are the best tool for us.
 
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:14 am

Quoting Spacepope (Reply 7):
If you're talking 100km+ then those assets are more than useless.

That's the extreme. As thegeek says in reply 8 most are within 50km.

Quoting thegeek (Reply 11):
Not convinced.

Agreed

Quoting strangr (Reply 12):
For our area (king Lake for example) the nearest airport that could handle a large plane for this would be tulla.

So what? An airport is not really required for a flying boat type water bomber.

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sassiciai
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:50 am

It would seem to be an evident solution to the problem of aircraft utilisation to work out a rotation scheme between the northern and southern hemispheres. For example, the Italians probably don't need their fleet of water bombers during winter

A 3 month period "on duty" in Australia during the European winter, and then a similar period on duty in Italy (during the Australia winter) would make sense, and share the costs of the fleet over the two countries in this example. Only added costs are ferry flights up and down once each year
 
Spacepope
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:45 pm

Quoting Sassiciai (Reply 14):
It would seem to be an evident solution to the problem of aircraft utilisation to work out a rotation scheme between the northern and southern hemispheres. For example, the Italians probably don't need their fleet of water bombers during winter

That seems to make the most sense. Fixed wing large air tankers are expensive all around, but their capability is very useful. A large or long drop of retardant can slow a fire more than smaller seawater drops (that don't have persistence). It'll be interesting to see the new BAE-146 and MD-87 based tankers in action this year, a nice bump in capacity from the P-2 and C-130s.
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qf002
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:55 pm

Quoting thegeek (Reply 11):
Not convinced. These bush fires might burn vast swathes of bush, but how much value is destroyed by them? Not nearly as much as burning down homes on the edge of suburbia.

It's still a lot of travel time to/from the coast. At least 10 minutes return from a fire 20km from the coast.

Quoting gemuser (Reply 13):
An airport is not really required for a flying boat type water bomber.

It is to refuel the aircraft. A chopper can be refueled anywhere a truck can get to.

Another point to consider -- our terrain is very different to others around the world. It's much harder for a plane to get down into valleys, up alongside cliffs etc.

Quoting Sassiciai (Reply 14):
It would seem to be an evident solution to the problem of aircraft utilisation to work out a rotation scheme between the northern and southern hemispheres. For example, the Italians probably don't need their fleet of water bombers during winter

A 3 month period "on duty" in Australia during the European winter, and then a similar period on duty in Italy (during the Australia winter) would make sense, and share the costs of the fleet over the two countries in this example. Only added costs are ferry flights up and down once each year

We already do this with the skycranes, which come from the United States for the summer and go back once the season is over.
 
Gemuser
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:01 pm

Quoting qf002 (Reply 16):
It is to refuel the aircraft. A chopper can be refueled anywhere a truck can get to.

No its not. A flying boat/float plane can be refueled any where a barge can get to. Obviously some logistics planning would be required.

Quoting qf002 (Reply 16):
It's much harder for a plane to get down into valleys, up alongside cliffs etc.

Not really. Our hills/mountains are low, so our valleys are not as deep. The Italians operate into some very steep, deep valleys in the Alps & the Yanks do too in the Sierra Nevadas.

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strangr
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RE: Australia Wildfires - Current Aircraft Involved?

Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:43 pm

Quoting Sassiciai (Reply 14):
So what? An airport is not really required for a flying boat type water bomber.

After spending a week in Eildon, I can see the point of a flying boat. But with all those trees under water it'd be hard to ensure a safe space for landing.

A helo can drop take water and be gone, and as mentioned before can be refuelled anywhere a tanker can get to. However yes water craft have been useful overseas during wildfire problems.