SUPERFAST AIR TRACTOR ENLISTED TO FIGHT BLAZES
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.”