Air International 2020-04
K.Chapman, P.Eden - Disaster Down Under
An RAA MRH-90 and its crew belonging to the 6th Aviation Regiment braves hellish conditions to provide support at Polo Flat, Cooma, not far from Mallacoota.
RAN Aircrewman Leading Seaman Ben Nixon from No 808 Squadron assesses the Tianjara fire in both the Moreton and Jerrawangala National Parks out of the side door of an MRH90 Taipan multi-role utility helicopter. The RAN was operating its MRH90s from HMAS Albatross, Nowra and has been integral in the evacuation of residents from Fishermans Paradise and North Sassafras on the south coast of NSW.
Lockheed EC-13OQ Hercules - N134CG (c/n 382-4904) - drops fire retardant to douse bushfires in Penrose, NSW, on January 10, 2020. Unfortunately, the aircraft collided with terrain after dropping retardant during fire control operations near Peak View, NSW, on January 23, 2020. The aircraft was completely destroyed and its three crew onboard was fatally injured. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is currently investigating the accident and a final report will be published following its conclusion. The aircraft entered service in the early-1980s with the US Navy as BuNo 161496 and was placed into storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona, before being resurrected and repurposed as an air tanker for Coulson Aviation in 2017.
Australian Army personnel belonging to the 1st/19th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment refill 10 Tanker Air Carriers' McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, N522AX (c/n 48315/436), with fire retardant solution.
C-27J Spartans have proved their value in the operations, being able to deliver cargo, transport firefighters and evacuate residents from areas inaccessible to larger fixed-wing transport aircraft.
A variety of aircraft, both large and small, have been employed to combat the fires raging in Australia. Infantrymen from the 1st/19th Battalion, Royal NSW Regiment, rush to load an AT802 Air Tractor fire bomber with fire retardant at Canberra Airport.