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New Water Bomber for Victoria

Old 8th Nov 2009, 09:49
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Capt Basil Brush

What are they doing with Army Caribou's when they retire?
Airforce Caribous not Army.

Way too expensive to contemplate maintaining hence the reason the Airforce is retiring them.
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Old 8th Nov 2009, 10:20
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From speaking to a few CFA guys today, there seems to be a media beatup (No - not possible) on the usefulness of the larger type of tankers. One of the problems associated with these aircraft is their refill time. Via hose it can take a very long time - up to 24 hours, and to scoop airborne can be a problem. Port Philip bay is often too rough for airborne refills. The difference between Aus and many other places is the availability of long, smooth lakes. Victoria is sadly lacking in these that are suitable.

These guys seemed to agree with Farmer Pete about more aircraft more often, rather than one dig dump less often.

This info is only from a few guys and I'm not saying it is correct, just putting it out there for discussion
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Old 8th Nov 2009, 11:32
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Port Philip bay is often too rough for airborne refills.
I'd be very surprised if you couldn't find suitable water in Port Philip Bay - it is effectively a closed body of water. The windward shore would provide flat water in it's lee.

The difference between Aus and many other places is the availability of long, smooth lakes. Victoria is sadly lacking in these that are suitable.
There are a lot more waterways suitable for something like a 415 than airports that are suitable for a 747 or DC10. From the Bombadier site:

This effective firefighting technique takes only 12 seconds, travelling at 130 km/h (70 knots) and 410 metres (1,350 feet), to scoop up a 6,137-litre (1,621-US-gallon) water load.
The advanced Bombardier 415 aircraft scoops water from sites that are only two metres (6.5 feet) deep and 90 metres (300 feet) wide. When the water site is too small for a full pick-up, the Bombardier 415 takes a partial load and returns to the fire.
The Bombardier 415 amphibian doesn’t need a straight scooping path. Since the aircraft is still in "flying" mode while scooping, pilots can easily manoeuvre around river bends or visible obstacles in the water.
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Old 8th Nov 2009, 11:52
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liters per hour on the flames...

A quick calculation on the various tanker options. With the reload point 15 nm away from the fire the drop rate in liters per hour is about:

AT-502: 140kts, 7,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill only, price $??m
AT-802: 160kts, 10,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill only, price $??m
Tracker: 240kts 16,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill only, price $7m
G111AT: 180kts 16,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill or scoop, price $15m
CL415T: 180kts 20,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill or scoop, price $30m

The scoopers can double their output easily if a convenient water body is close because the "tank" time is then reduced to seconds.

There is probably a role for each of these aircraft, but what would the main strike force have to consist of....?
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Old 8th Nov 2009, 13:41
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just a question bout these big water bombers? considering the speed they would be going to just stay airbourne, and a safety height that they would be dropping from, wouldn't the force of the fluid/retardent hitting the fires cause more spot fires due to splash than its worth?
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Old 8th Nov 2009, 19:28
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AussieNick asked

just a question bout these big water bombers? considering the speed they would be going to just stay airbourne, and a safety height that they would be dropping from, wouldn't the force of the fluid/retardent hitting the fires cause more spot fires due to splash than its worth?
With the aircraft that we're using now, dropping from 100'ATreeL gives the retardant time to achieve terminal velocity and fall vertically. Given the manufacturer's specified drop height of 400-800"ATL, splash is not likely to be a problem.

Higher speeds also cause greater initial dispersion.

Regards............ Peter
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Old 8th Nov 2009, 19:54
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There are a lot more waterways suitable for something like a 415 than airports that are suitable for a 747 or DC10. From the Bombadier site:
Werbil.

Also from the Bombardier website.....
How much distance does the Bombardier 415 take to scoop its load? The Bombardier 415 is very manoeuvrable. If a body of water is 1,341 metres (4,400 feet) long by 90 metres (300 feet) wide and 2 metres (6 feet) deep, without floating debris, then it is scoopable*. Only 400 metres (1,350 feet) are actually required on the water, the remainder being needed for approach and climb-out. Of course, these distances can be reduced by scooping partial loads or scooping while turning. Speed on the water while scooping is 75 knots. Approximately 10 to 12 seconds are required between touchdown and lift-off to scoop a load.
* Including obstacle clearances of 50 feet, sea level, on a standard day, all operating engines


As I lives adjacent to the upper Murray, I know how rare this specification is anywhere other than the lower 1/4 of the Murray. Our rivers are narrow, wind almost continuously, are full of snags and tend to be lined with Eucalypts well over 50' in height. Not to mention the ambient temperatures on a typical bad fire day.

The specifications could be met on a handful of major impoundments, but as our lakes are man-made and contain much flooded timber, safety considerations would require the aircraft to only scoop from carefully surveyed and marked runs.

There may be more such runs than there are airports capable of taking a 747 , but not a lot of them.

Respectfully............ Peter
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 02:31
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Interesting figures Timber, did you re-engine the Trackers with a Tardis to come up with those numbers??
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 02:44
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Tardis?

Garrett TPE-331

Hartzell Propeller: Press Releases
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 03:17
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a safety height that they would be dropping from
So what is the frag envelope for slick water?
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 08:08
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A quick calculation on the various tanker options. With the reload point 15 nm away from the fire the drop rate in liters per hour is about:

AT-502: 140kts, 7,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill only, price $??m
AT-802: 160kts, 10,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill only, price $??m
Tracker: 240kts 16,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill only, price $7m
G111AT: 180kts 16,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill or scoop, price $15m
CL415T: 180kts 20,000 liters dropped / hr, hose refill or scoop, price $30m

The scoopers can double their output easily if a convenient water body is close because the "tank" time is then reduced to seconds.

There is probably a role for each of these aircraft, but what would the main strike force have to consist of....?

Helicopters.
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 08:59
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this may be a dumb question but, dont they have terrain in Canada and California too? their pilots seem to be able to handle it in Trackers and alike.


CAL FIRE - Air Program

Why are we so different to them (obvious water shortage compared to Canada)

Why dont we learn from their professional (sorry to offend the volunteers out there) initial attack programs operating in Canada. Feel free to research these programs. Initial Attack Crews - Wildfire Management Branch - Ministry of Forests and Range - Province of British Columbia
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 10:04
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FarmerPete,

I used to live around the Grampians where there were quite a number of suitable lakes. Of the numerous large lakes in the area that would be suitable Bellfield & Rocklands in particular have large areas of deep water even during drought periods. The closest airport with a chance of taking a DC10 or 747 to these lakes would be at Avalon - over 100nm away.

I also used to live in far East Gippsland where there were quite a number of protected Estuaries that would have been suitable for water scooping - including both the Mallacoota Lakes and the Gippsland Lakes. Again, the closest airport with a chance of taking a DC10 or 747 would be Canberra - again over 100nm away.

There are many other waterways in Victoria that I can think of that would be suitable for scooping.

A large capacity tanker will take a significant amount of time to refill on the ground - scooping only takes seconds.

as our lakes are man-made and contain much flooded timber, safety considerations would require the aircraft to only scoop from carefully surveyed and marked runs
I'd be more worried about damn power lines than underwater timber. Having done some flying in an impoundment with both I know which is easier to spot on an aerial survey. Man made marks are usually only needed in very confined areas with hazards that are completely submerged as there are usually plenty of natural features to use as marks. In Australia we are fortunate that we don't have anywhere near the amount of mobile timber that they have in many overseas waterways - seeing large trees floating just under the surface sends shivers up my spine.
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 10:15
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Extremely uneducated observer so no opinion. Though I do know the DC-10 gets low, see here:

SEA07TA181

Could East Sale handle a 747/DC-10?
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 10:43
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East Sale is still well over 100nm away from Mallacoota.
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 10:44
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At the weights the 74 would be operating at, East sale would be suitable. It would appear that Avalon, Melbourne or East Sale would enable the 747 to cover anywhere in Victoria in under 30 minutes. The closer the fire, the quicker the sectors.
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 12:20
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Werbil.

Please allow that I'm familiar with the rapid turnaround that scoopers, where feasible, can permit. (I was watching an AT802 Fireboss working on the Clarence River only a fortnight ago.) Be aware that we've also seen Aircranes running turnarounds as low as 45 seconds under real Australian conditions and from water sources that could not possibly permit scooping by a fixed-wing aircraft. . When these issues are taken into consideration, the niche in which the CL415 is the most effective aircraft starts to narrow, considerably.

It is a part of my work to assess the risks to aircraft operating at fires. I don't claim to be an expert at it, but I've spent enough time on inland lakes to know that deepest sections - along the old river-beds -, were generally the most heavily timbered. We only have to miss one.....

It might also be worth mentioning that a number of our senior aviation personnel - in both DSEVic and NSWRFS - trained at the California School of Air Attack, so they have had the opportunity to see how the various aircraft types work. We send fire mangers over there on a regular basis, so it cannot be said that we're isolated from the latest developments in aerial firefighting overseas. A quick scan of the web indicates that the CDF don't own CL415s, and that the two counties that do use them (a total of 4 aircraft) lease, rather than buying. Only 3 Canadian provinces are listed as major users, and they are all in the eastern part of the state with high numbers of freshwater lakes. It appears that over most on Northern America, the Canadairs are not the outstanding "go-to" aircraft that the company advertising would have us believe.

Please hear me. I'm not saying that the '415 is a bad aircraft. What I am saying is that across much of Vic and NSW - particularly away from the narrow coastal strip - it cannot work to capacity and that, therefore, the choice of other aircraft is not as ridiculous as you might think.

The option is always there for a private company to import one and to go through the normal tender-for-contract or EOI (for the call-when-needed list) that all the others go through. While I remain suspiscious of the political factor in the lease under discussion, I'm quite sure that the firefighting authorities in Victoria have specific tasks and situations in mind for their major aircraft contracts, and have done their best to influence the choice.

Respectfully..... Peter
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Old 9th Nov 2009, 12:56
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Obviously, no-one will be able to predict the type of forest fires we'll be getting next summer. So wouldn't it be reasonable then to prepare ourselves for all possible scenarios and have a range of different aircraft types at the ready? I'm sure there is a niche for the 747 Supertanker; if there wasn't, then why would a company invest in it?
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Old 10th Nov 2009, 00:28
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Hello all,

First I do not want to infer that we do not have a competent fire fighting system here in Australia. I am sure there are plenty of examples where helicopters were the most effective as the water source they were picking up from would not have supported other aircraft. I am also sure there is an equal amount of situations where the reverse is true.

My main focus is that there are tools that we do not have available to us that we should have. Mainly larger retardant tankers and scoopers. I think the DC10 and the 747 are not manuverable enough. I think the Convair 580 would be Ideal for this or if we have to go to new airframes the Q400 seems to be working well for the French securite civile.

We should not be putting the tankers (retardant carriers), and the water bombers (scoopers) into exactly the same category. These airplanes are two different parts of the whole picture. Tankers help contain and direct while the scoopers help decrease fire intensity.

While its true only 3 Provinces use the 415, Ontario, Quebec, and now Newfoundland they are not the only ones using scoopers. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the NWT use the previous model the 215. Alberta has the Rockies in it with lowests safes around 15000' as does the NWT. I have seen some of the swamps and puddles these guys have scooped out of and it is pretty amazing. One has to remember that these guys are scooping out of rivers that have active logging as well as reservoirs from hydro dams across Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Lets not forget to mention France, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece. All of whom have mountainous terrain and have a lot more restrictions on their internal waterways than Australia.

The trick is these aircraft do not work alone. They work as a pair at a minimum preferably more. These aircraft set up a circuit as close to the fire as possible and hammer it with as much water as they can. The guys who I talk to talk about 90 takeoffs plus for a four hour mission when the source is close. This makes a hell of a difference but it must be remembered that the boots on the ground put out the fire not the airplane.

DW

Last edited by Double Wasp; 10th Nov 2009 at 00:42.
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Old 10th Nov 2009, 02:03
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The CL415 were in OZ 8 years ago doing proving flight for the Fire Auth's in NSW, Vic and S.A (not sure about the other states) and all come to the conclusion that the price and lack of water supplies were the main issues against????
This was during spring and not the fire season??? I might be worth getting a couple here during the fire season and have a good look at them.
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