Air tanker trial



DC-10 trial for the summer

A DC-10 air tanker brought into Victoria to help with bushfire operations this summer is being evaluated by researchers at the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre.

The chief executive officer of the Bushfire CRC, Mr Gary Morgan, said the trial of the air tanker will add to the limited knowledge in this area.

“We need to know what this aircraft can do and what it can’t do in Australian conditions. This type of aircraft has not been used for fire fighting in Australia and is quite different to anything in the current fleet of aircraft and helicopters. It is important that we take the time to fully understand its capabilities and its limitations under Australian conditions” said Mr Morgan.

The DC10 swoops low over the Wombat State Forest before dropping retardantThe scientific evaluation will aim to assess the effectiveness of this type of very large aircraft in a range of situations (remote fires, interface fires, forest fuels, grass fuels, flat terrain, hilly terrain) and with a range of payloads (water, retardant).  To date, this class of aircraft has not been tested in all of these conditions, and in particular, not in interface areas.

The Bushfire CRC has experience in evaluating the effectiveness of aerial suppression. In recent years the Bushfire CRC has worked closely with fire fighting agencies around Australia and internationally and with the National Aerial Fire Fighting Centre on a range of bushfire suppression projects involving both air and ground resources.

“The Bushfire CRC will bring its broad expertise to the trial of this very large aircraft and will share the outcomes with fire fighting agencies around Australia and internationally,” said Mr Morgan.

The Bushfire CRC researchers are from the CSIRO and from Australian fire fighting agencies, who will work closely with the US aircraft crews.

Researcher Matt Plucinski briefs the ground crews at the Wombat State Forest DC10 trialIn addition, an S76 helicopter from Canada will accompany the researchers in their task.

“This helicopter is a vital part of the trial because it has the speed and responsiveness to keep pace with the DC-10 and it is equipped with all the necessary monitoring equipment to ensure that each aerial drop can be properly assessed” he said.

The trial is funded by the Victorian Government through the state’s fire fighting agencies, the CFA and the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

DC-10 during drop

Release date

Fri, 29/01/2010