By By Emma Kelly, Australia and Pacific Correspondent | December 8, 2014
Australian states and territories are preparing for this year’s bushfire season with aerial resources in place. Although the Australian summer only starts on Dec. 1, the bushfire season starts as early as late August in some parts of the country’s north east and continues through to April in the south west.
Erickson Aircranes have started arriving in the country, with two Aircranes – Ichabod and Gypsey Lady – recently starting duties in New South Wales, which has already experienced bush fires this season. The helicopters, which can release up to 7,500 liters per drop and load in less than 60 seconds, are based at Sydney’s Bankstown Airport and deployed across the state and interstate if needed.
Aircranes are a familiar sight in Australia in the summer, with numbers of the type located each year in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.
Another two Aircranes will be based in Victoria this season from December as part of that state’s aerial firefighting fleet. Victoria has boosted its aerial firefighting resources by an additional AUD$7.15 million this year, which includes fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, including one firebombing helicopter to be based in the Latrobe Valley, the two Aircranes, two Sikorsky helicopters with 3,500 liter capacity each, five medium-sized helicopters and 15 light helicopters.
Australia has a national approach to arranging aerial firefighting resources, with the National Aerial Firefighting Center (NAFC) each year securing a fleet of 50-plus fixed wing aircraft and helicopters to fight fires and conduct air attack supervision roles, with state governments supplementing this with additional resources.