Victoria’s Firefighting Air Fleet Takes To The Skies

13 December 2016

Victorians will be better protected with the state’s largest firefighting air fleet officially launched at Avalon airport today.

Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino was joined by Federal Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley to inspect a number of the 48 firefighting aircraft that will support ground crews over the summer fire season.

This includes two Large Air Tankers – the biggest firefighting aircraft in the world – known as Hercules and RJ.

They can hold up to 15,000 litres of water, foam or retardant and will again be centrally located at Avalon Airport to make sure there is a quick response to anywhere in the state.

Two 7500-litre air-cranes, known as Malcolm and Ichabod, will based at Essendon and Moorabbin Airports.

The Firebird 300 intelligence-gathering helicopter will be back again this year to provide emergency management agencies with real-time information on fires, floods and other incidents.

The air fleet also includes two Sikorsky helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and light helicopters.

There will be more immediate response aircraft based in more locations across the state this summer, which means these smaller and more agile aircraft can respond to fires at the same time as trucks to help keep small fires at bay.

This record largest aircraft fleet will boost the state’s firefighting capacity as Victoria faces an above average fire season, with more rain and warmer temperatures creating considerable grass growth.

Victoria’s aircraft fleet is jointly funded by the State and Commonwealth Governments, with the Commonwealth supporting operation of the air-cranes and Sikorsky helicopters as part of the national fleet.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino

“This is one of the most sophisticated fire-bombing aircraft fleet in the world and it will provide vital support to our firefighters on the ground.”

“While it’s been a wet spring and slow start to the summer, we’re facing an above average fire season so all Victorians should be preparing now – it’s important to consider what you will do and where you will go if an emergency hits.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment Lily D’Ambrosio

“We need these aircraft to tackle fires head on and help us gather intelligence so we can direct and keep our crews safe.”

“No two fires are the same, so having all these tools at our disposal helps keeps our firefighters and our communities safe this summer.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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