The DC-10 firefighting tanker jet trialled in Victoria last fire season will not return this coming season, after a comprehensive Bushfire CRC evaluation of its performance found the aircraft unsuited to Victorian conditions.
Following the much publicised trial of the big jet during the 2009-2010 fire season, Bushfire CRC lead researcher Dr Matt Plucinski of CSIRO prepared a 94-page report on the trial for Victoria’s Department of Sustainability and Environment.
His report analysed the various “drops” of retardant made by the aircraft during real and simulated firefighting runs and found it had “limited effectiveness and presented some clear safety issues.”
Accepting the report, Victorian Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings announced that the State Government would not bring the DC-10 back but instead invest $12 million to lease two new Convair 580 fire bomber planes, a third Erikson Aircrane helicopter and four extra fixed-wing aircraft for the upcoming fire season.
Dr Plucinski gave a presentation on his DC-10 evaluation at the annual AFAC and Bushfire CRC conference in Darwin in September. His talk drew a large audience keen to assess the merits of large aircraft for fire suppression under Australian conditions.