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From Airlines to Firebombing - Really?

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From Airlines to Firebombing - Really?

Old 20th Sep 2020, 04:00
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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I’ve had about 20 years of fire ops in east coast states, starting back in the late 80s when we learned On The Job, so there’s a little bit of experience to refer to.

We all have to start somewhere and there have been numerous missed opportunities for a solid home owned and operated aerial firefighting to be set up and nurtured. Time and again the cheap and easy choice has been made by officials to engage overseas operators rather than nurture ‘our own’ and keep the money and experience here in Australia. We missed out on setting up our own S-64 Aircrane fleet back in the late 90s, and have spent more since on bringing in N Reg machines than we would ever have outlaid on a fleet of new machines (as did the Italians). Operators such as Kestrel have battled hard to get night ops up and approved, forever slowed down by the CASA and achieved so much despite the obstacles put in their way. McDermotts have a great setup of Helitacks all on P2 or N registrations which allow them to go overseas and Make Money, a virtual impossibility with any VH machine.

So why can’t or won’t we allow Australian pilots to get a foot in the overseas dominated door of LAT and VLAT ops? Why should aircraft pilot be an approved occupation for migrants; it certainly wasn’t some 40 years ago? The skill levels must be there, and the requirements certainly in place to meet the demands of the job; helicopter pilots must have ag/low level endorsement to be allowed out on fire ops (Helitack and Firebird) so I’d expect similar requirements for plank drivers to get onto the fireground. Minimum hours are also required (100 last time I looked) so it’s not as if Capt Bloggs is going to jump into a LAT without being thoroughly trained.

And my pet irrit has long been the so-called Free Trade Agreement with the USA, where no-one, not even the Canadians, can operate on their own register on fires in the US. All have to be N Reg.

Yet we roll over and let them into Australia with only a requirement for an Australian AOC, watching a vast amount of money and experience drift away at the expense of every Australian taxpayer.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 04:05
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
No not “minimal”, additional training to the required standard. They’ve already got the experience on type. All it takes is CASA to amend the rules which currently make it the domain of former ag pilots. Maybe there is resistance from some in that community who want it to remain a closed shop

Interestingly helicopter firefighting pilots are not required to have former aerial application (ag) experience before gaining a firefighting endorsement as far as I can see.

You’ve got probably a thousand pilots who are currently not working in this country who would be up to the task of being able to be trained for this service if the Federal Government and CASA got on board. I don’t see why anyone posting on this site wouldn’t want to kill two birds with one stone (provide Australia with this essential service and provide employment for many of our stood down colleagues). It does seem there is some sneering going on at “autopilot babysitting” airline pilots who possibly couldn’t do anything more than watch an autopilot from 10 seconds after take off to ten seconds before landing.
Quite incorrect; no helicopter pilot is allowed on any Australian fire operation without ag/low level endorsement and minimum hours on type and on fireops.

There is no such thing as a firefighting endorsement.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 04:31
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by John Eacott View Post

There is no such thing as a firefighting endorsement.
CASA 56/18 — Flight Training (Aeroplane Firefighting Endorsement) Approval 2018

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Old 20th Sep 2020, 04:38
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by John Eacott View Post

So why can’t or won’t we allow Australian pilots to get a foot in the overseas dominated door of LAT and VLAT ops?.
Politics, the government doesn’t want to invest in it. They’d rather spend money elsewhere.

it isn’t just AFAP, emergency service chiefs have been campaigning for more water bombers since before last fire season. Looks like their pleas are still falling on deaf ears.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 06:52
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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Although I was referencing helicopter ops, you are quite right as there's a similar instrument for rotary drivers. Nonetheless, the requirement for the low level segment of the ag (or mustering) endorsement was always a requirement for helicopter ops; it is now covered in 57/18 Part 5.3.b and Schedule 1.
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Old 20th Sep 2020, 22:03
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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Re: Buying Overseas Vs. Developing our own talents.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. We suffer from the ANU over educated idiots who populate the Canberra bureaucracy. They kill 99.999% of every Australian initiative or innovation all the time. The reason is that what they were taught in Economics 101 about competitive advantage and economics of scale is utter bullshit and has been for at least the last 60 years.

"Competitive advantage" is a term for having some geographic, social or economic advantage over other producers that results in your industry being more efficient and profitable than other peoples. This is often to do with "input costs'.

"Economies of scale" is to do with absorbing the initial investment (referred to as setup costs) in producing something over more units than the next guy. This means a lower unit cost.

The examples quoted in the texts are the American Auto industry - huge economies of scale. The Chicago meat packers grow cattle > rail to chicago > kill and fit into tins > rail to New York.

However these and other examples are sixty years out of date and in a modern context, just plain wrong. For example the entire technology thrust in the auro industry for the last sixty years is to reduce setup costs so that economic order quantity = 1 not 10,000! This is what, among other things, Kanban and CNC machine tools is all about.

Same with competitive advantage - transport costs these days are minimal, the internet has shrunk the planet and the idea for example that our primary products (e.g wool) had to be processed in England is way past its use by date.

So how is this relevant? Simple ANU graduates were taught:

- Australia only has competitive advantage in mining and agriculture, we are a quarry and a farm, period. The downside of this is that we are price takers as our commodities are traded internationally.

- Australia is too small to have economies of scale in manufacturing anything at all. The corollary to this is that any manufactured goods from overseas are always cheaper and better value.

- The deduction from these two outdated principles is that forcing miners and farmers to buy anything local reduces their profitability.

* For these "logical reasons" the Mandarins in Canberra have implacably opposed ANY manufacturing or other initiative in the Australian economy because it might "hurt our farmers or miners".

That is why:

-the Victa airtourer business was allowed to be destroyed.

- The Nomad was scrapped.

- Gippsland Airvan had to be sold.

- Ansett wasnt rescued (we don't have a big enough market for two airlines - economies of scale again).

- Our car industry was closed.

- Etc. You lose count.

But wait! There's more! Not only do the bureaucrats believe all these things and act accordingly, it gets worse!

Should some Australian secondary industry succeed in developing something competitive and thriving, the bureaucrats are enraged and try to kill it because it isn't supposed to be possible! The thinking goes that if Australian xyz company is designing making and selling digital thronomisters around the world, then we must be subsidising them in some way, because this can't happen! Therefore they do what they can to shut them down, starting by the Federal Government ignoring the local product and buying overseas. This is what happened to the RAAF Wamira trainer project (sort of).

So despite Australia being bushfire central there is not a hope in hell that the Australian Government, or any state government is going to support a local capability. The Mandarins in Canberra will tell them its uneconomic and to buy from overseas for the reasons I've elucidated.

Same thing is happening now to the alternative solar energy industry. We should be world leaders, but not if Can'tberra has its way.




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Old 20th Sep 2020, 22:56
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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The US large air tanker fleet , apart from some units in California, are owned by companies that bid for contracts with the USFS, CDF and other agencies. The US does not provide funding apart from these contracts. In Canada some states own a few CL215T/415's and the rest are private companies on contracts.

The notion here is that we ask the government/s to pay do everything. Re the AFAP cry, those making the statements that Aussie fires should be fought by Aussie crews and assets simply do not understand the intense training and experience required to operate large air tankers in the fire zone. It takes years to become a Captain for example so thousands of hours peddling a Boeing or Airbus anything speeding between 4/5 star hotels isn't the background for this. These fire guys are more akin to fighter pilots not transport types.

McDermott Helicopters has proven the case for private helicopter fire operations and sends aircraft all over the world to fight fires so we do have capabilities here.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 01:38
  #28 (permalink)  
 
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John Eacott - great to hear from somebody in the business long-term. Good points. Totally agree with Sunfish about or disgraceful lack of support for homegrown enterprises, what's wrong with us? TBM that generalisation about airline pilots is nonsense. As Spooky 2 said, airline pilots over the age of 60 in the US make that transition and we are no different here - depends on the individual. Certainly this airline pilot nearing 60 was bored silly and keen too be involved in something worthwhile for the country. I had written this article for submission to either The Australian of the Fairfax press and haven't submitted it yet. Naive and slightly simplistic perhaps but we need to do something about this firefighting and have the ability to do it from within. Just needs major political support. We have the people and the brains and unfortunately the fires.

.............

Australia must urgently review its aerial firefighting administration.


For years, on a state-by-state basis, amongst a random array of aircraft we have relied on the seasonal importation from the United States of the effective Erickson Aircrane helicopters to fight these fires.

One can never forget the appreciation of a resident whose house was about to be engulfed by flames. Looking up to the heavens he saw ‘Elvis’ emerging from the smoke, dousing the flames, saving his house and possibly his life.

Recently, we have also imported larger, fixed-wing aircraft such as the BAe 146 and Douglas DC-10.

Rather than relying on imported aircraft, the New South Wales government recently acquired a converted Boeing 737 as a dedicated water bomber. Ex-airline aircraft such as the midsize McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and DC-10 or the Boeing 747 very large air tanker are becoming the standard for aerial firefighting. The 747 can carry seventy-two thousand litres of retardant, released in seven partial drops or one massive deployment.

The great benefit of these larger airframes is they are cheaper to acquire than new aircraft and fast. They are able to reach anywhere between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in under two hours and within minutes if based locally.

Current firefighting strategy thus firstly involves smaller aircraft such as helicopters and modified crop dusters dropping retardant directly onto the flames. Secondly, the larger tanker aircraft drop a non-combustible line of retardant ahead of an oncoming fire.

This can mean the difference between a town surviving or being engulfed in an inferno.

In North America, aircraft such as the purpose-built Canadiar CL-215 floatplane utilise North America’s massive system of lakes to scoop six thousand litres of water in less than twenty seconds, then dumping this onto nearby fires.

In Australia, that readily available fresh water is unavailable. Our aircraft primarily operate from fixed bases, using tank water or retardant. Salt water can be used with associated operational and environmental restrictions.

Australia currently employs a state by state approach to aerial firefighting, many of the aircraft being charted from commercial operators. Some intra-state liaison of firefighting assets is overseen by the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.

With increasingly widespread fire outbreaks, there will always be the need for private sector involvement. However, with mega events such as these latest blazes and the Black Saturday and Ash Wednesday fires, there is an urgent need to establish a dedicated, RAAF-like, national aerial firefighting authority.

This autonomous department needs its own fleet of helicopters, small and large fixed-wing fire detecting and firebombing aircraft and its own crew and facilities.

These aircraft must be rapidly deployable across the nation and the region.

When not in use in Australia, the fleet can potentially be leased to countries such as Indonesia. International firefighting will unfortunately become a growth industry.

Accompanying this fleet, we need to quickly establish dedicated facilities at airports nationwide. These large and small airstrips must have rapid-refill water and retardant tanks, fully stocked and ready to deploy at any time. This will minimise turnaround times for both the large and small aircraft and maximise deployment efficiency.

Some of this infrastructure is already operational. The smaller single engine tanker aircraft and helicopters already operate from unimproved airstrips nationwide and do an excellent job.

However a concerted effort must be made to establish an integrated system of large paved and smaller unprepared private and public airstrips, with tanking facilities available at short notice, overseen by one national authority.

If the need be, uncooperative local councils should be overridden in the national interest. This is a wartime-like operational necessity and there can be no place for agenda-driven councils.

As bushfires survivors repeatedly state, this is a war.

The aircraft and air bases can be established relatively quickly and affordably. Certainly far more affordably than the emotional and financial human and property costs resulting from not attacking this issue with urgency.

The large tanker aircraft are not new, being retired airliners. Their conversion to tanker status can be undertaken locally, benefiting local industry.

Larger airports need not be constructed from scratch, they already exist. Near Brisbane there is Amberley RAAF airbase and the expanding but under utilised Sunshine Coast domestic airport.

The Sydney basin is slightly more problematic, having recently seen the closure of smaller airfields such as Hoxton Park and Schofields. Only the RAAF bases at Richmond and Williamstown and potentially the smaller airport at Albion Park near Wollongong have runways of sufficient length. Now is the perfect time to plan for a dedicated facility at the new Western Sydney Airport.

Melbourne has Avalon Airport to the south and Mangalore to the north.

With fires becoming more destructive each season, communities near these airports will appreciate that they have a facility able to defend their houses, businesses and lives from devastation.

Blame for the cause of the fires is a long-term game. We do not have the luxury of time.

Establishing a centralised, well equipped, rapid response aerial firefighting team, free from political partisanship is the fastest way to defend ourselves from these awful fires.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 06:05
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by TBM-Legend View Post

The notion here is that we ask the government/s to pay do everything. Re the AFAP cry, those making the statements that Aussie fires should be fought by Aussie crews and assets simply do not understand the intense training and experience required to operate large air tankers in the fire zone.
There’s nothing stopping our current government from starting to develop that skill set and operational knowledge base now. We’ve had public run or government contracted services like Coastwatch, Maritime Search and Rescue, Police Air Wing, military etc in this country, and it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility for a National Aerial Firefighting Service to be created, either fully government run or a private contractor supplying Australian aircraft and crew under Australian Government control, and brought up to operational standards within a period of time (drawing on the knowledge base of local and overseas experts).

With Northern Hemisphere Fire seasons extending as late as December and Australian bushfire seasons now starting as early as August the use of foreign assets can’t be sustained long term. Yes it’ll take a few years to get it up and running but it isn’t like this problem is going to go away. It just takes some political will to get it started, which doesn’t exist at the moment.
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 09:22
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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Al E. Vator thanks for the comment, but I don't claim to be completely up-to-date as I've already demonstrated!

A couple of points; the troops at the frontline were expressing concerns about reaction times and about overseas machines in the 90s, so for 'leaders' to come along with almost grandstanding attacks asking for the same some 20+ years later, impresses no-one except the professionally outraged.

What we need IMO is not necessarily a Government operation but Government support for home grown industries. We should be denying N reg operators access to our contracts until they allow VH reg access to theirs, as should be the case with our Free Trade Agreement. The major operators would soon scream to their Congressmen, etc, when a significant revenue source is threatened. McDermott are a prime example of an Australian operator doing well, but only with all machines N Reg for use in the States. I'm sure that the likes of Kestrel would also be in a better position to employ their machines year round, instead of only during the Australian fire season.

And before someone else says it, CASA needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century to make overseas firefighting ops commercially profitable for VH Reg/AOC holders
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Old 21st Sep 2020, 09:50
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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I'm an airline Pilot.

I've seen "Always" (the movie).

Can't be too hard.
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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 02:26
  #32 (permalink)  
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Politics, the government doesn’t want to invest in it. They’d rather spend money elsewhere.

it isn’t just AFAP, emergency service chiefs have been campaigning for more water bombers since before last fire season. Looks like their pleas are still falling on deaf ears.
If you go back to the 90s, you will find that it was the fire services, by whatever name in each state, that were vehemently opposed to aerial assets.
We had CL215s demonstrated here only to be dismissed as the "fires here are different"

In North America, aircraft such as the purpose-built Canadiar CL-215 floatplane utilise North America’s massive system of lakes to scoop six thousand litres of water in less than twenty seconds, then dumping this onto nearby fires.

In Australia, that readily available fresh water is unavailable. Our aircraft primarily operate from fixed bases, using tank water or retardant. Salt water can be used with associated operational and environmental restrictions.
Canadair in their study put that notion to bed.
In any event the fundamental purpose of the SuperScooper is to put out bush fires before they rage out of control
One of the biggest criticisms of the aircraft is the supposed lack of water sources suitable for scooping. The fact is that there is more scoopable water adjacent to high risk areas (see attached maps) than the detractors would have you believe. In many, many cases, a quick survey of your fire district will indicate that scooping water is available. The combined national firefighting forces which responded to the New South Wales fires could have been very effectively supported by Canadair aircraft.For example, the fire which almost destroyed Winmalee in the Blue Mountains could have been controlled two days before the fire reached the urban area. Scooping from the Nepean river, and with a flying distance of23 kilometers to Mt. Wilson,

2 CL-215's could have dropped at least 188,000 liters of firefighting foam on the fire before nightfall on Thursday, leaving fire crews to trek in to the fire site the next morning to black out the fire completely. Instead, nearly three days passed, with a very risky backburn conducted, before the fire hit Winmalee with terrifying force.

To the north, in the Banyabba Nature Reserve, Bush Fire units had to drive for four hours before reaching the fire front whereas two CL-215's could have dropped a conservative 288,000 liters of fire fighting foam per day on the fire.
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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 04:28
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Originally Posted by 601 View Post
If you go back to the 90s, you will find that it was the fire services, by whatever name in each state, that were vehemently opposed to aerial assets.
We had CL215s demonstrated here only to be dismissed as the "fires here are different"



Canadair in their study put that notion to bed.
You do realise scooping aircraft are already based/ utilised here?

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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 10:42
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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Is this what Col Pay was developing when he "bought the farm?".
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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 12:55
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by The Banjo View Post
Is this what Col Pay was developing when he "bought the farm?".
https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/157
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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 17:04
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by The Banjo View Post
Is this what Col Pay was developing when he "bought the farm?".
No. ...........
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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 21:25
  #37 (permalink)  
 
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The Firefighting endorsement is for fixed wing Ag pilots with a minimum of 250hrs of ag.
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Old 22nd Sep 2020, 22:09
  #38 (permalink)  
 
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I am always relieved to have a water bomber or two “in support” of us. It makes the job easier and the less time I spend on the end of a fire rake or knapsack spray the better. There is also the possibility that they might be able to protect us if the fire gets out of hand.
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Old 23rd Sep 2020, 00:17
  #39 (permalink)  
 
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Blackhawk PIC fighting fires at 19 years old.
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Old 23rd Sep 2020, 00:30
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by chimbu warrior View Post
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...ature=emb_logo

Blackhawk PIC fighting fires at 19 years old.
Makes it easy when daddy owns the company and or helicopter :-)
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