The first two of six Erickson Air-Cranes have arrived in Australia to tackle this summer’s bushfire season, just as fires begin to rage in the country’s southeast as record November temperatures reach the low 40s.
Elvis and Isabelle arrived in Melbourne via ship on November 21. The following day the fire-bombing helicopters were reassembled and flown off the wharf to nearby Essendon Airport. Shortly after arriving at Essendon Isabelle refuelled and flew to Sydney to commence its NSW Rural Fire Service contract.
Another four Air-Cranes are due to arrive in Melbourne on December 8.
The National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) brought the Air-Cranes into country a month earlier this year, just as the bushfire threat assessment reached ‘catastrophic’ in parts of NSW for the first time.
“We will have a spare ‘Crane’ again this year which will remain at Essendon,” said Erickson’s Australian representative Mark Robertson. “Under contract we’ll have two based at Melbourne/Essendon, two in Sydney/Bankstown and one up in the Adelaide Hills.”
Each Air-crane is accompanied by a container of 10 tonnes worth of spares, including rotor blades, transmissions, engines, and a belly tank.
They will remain in Australia until March.