NT News

Bushfire weapon

SUPERFAST AIR TRACTOR ENLISTED TO FIGHT BLAZES

- GARY SHIPWAY

THE Territory has a new weapon for battling fires — an air tractor.

More precisely it is an AT-802F, a zippy, super-fast aircraft built to fight fires large and small, not only as an initial attack firefighte­r but also for extended duties supporting ground crews.

It combines agility, performanc­e, high reliabilit­y and pinpoint accuracy with a versatilit­y that allows it to operate where other firefighti­ng aircraft can’t.

The AT-802F can ferry between

the fire and the airfield at speeds approachin­g 320km/h. Swift transit times coupled with the flexibilit­y to operate from remote airstrips, dirt roads or small airports near the fire, allow the AT-802F make an impact on a fire rapidly.

Once over the fire line, the AT-802F slows — dropping its payload low, slow and right where it’s needed to knock down brush and grass fires or suppress fires in heavier canopies.

The AT-802F’s manoeuvrin­g agility, speedy climb rates and compact size make it

ideal for mountainou­s terrain, narrow flight corridors and wildland-urban interface areas.

The Northern Territory government recently installed two new 350,000lt water tanks at Batchelor and Hughes Airstrips, costing $150,000 combined.

The new tanks have the ability to hold enough water for about 100 to 110 plane loads, depending on the overall flying time of the day.

It takes about 90 seconds to fill the AT802-F with about 3000lt of water/foam concentrat­e.

So far this year the Hughes airstrip has been used for a total of 428 drops and had up to four fixed-wing aircraft and two helicopter­s using the airstrip at a time responding to fires in the area.

Environmen­t Minister Eva Lawler said after recent fire seasons, the Territory government allocated $2m towards updating firefighti­ng infrastruc­ture.

“As part of this investment we have establishe­d new 350,000 litre water tanks and six new fire trucks,” she said.

“Some $840,000 has gone towards six new trucks that

have been custom made to meet the needs of Bushfires NT staff and volunteers fighting fires on the frontline.

“Each volunteer brigade will have a chance to use these new vehicle prior to an entire fleet of trucks being purchased.

“The Territory government has also resealed the Hughes Airstrip this year to ensure operations continue to run smoothly.

“We are protecting properties and lives all over the rural area, from Dundee to Litchfield, we will identify fires and make sure we respond.”

 ??  ?? The NT government has installed a new 350,000lt water tank for specialist aircraft for fire suppressio­n activities. Picture: Julianne Osborne
The NT government has installed a new 350,000lt water tank for specialist aircraft for fire suppressio­n activities. Picture: Julianne Osborne

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