The Victorian government has scrapped plans to again lease a DC-10 Airtanker over the coming fire season, and will instead add a number of smaller aircraft to its fire fighting fleet.
The DC-10, which is capable of carrying more than 40 tonnes of water or retardant, was brought into Victoria last summer in a joint effort between the Victorian fire authorities and the National Bushfire Cooperative Research Council. However, an assessment by the Bushfire CRC found that the potential of the 40 tonne load to cause injury or property damage meant that it was unsuited to Victorian conditions, particularly around urban interface areas.
Instead, the government will spend $12 million to bring in two Convair 580 fire bombing aircraft capable of carrying eight tonnes of water, as well as an additional Erickson Aircrane and four additional fixed-wing aircraft for the coming fire season. It has also committed to equipment upgrades for a number upgrades for its helicopter fleet, including new infrared cameras as well as the development of night vision goggles to allow firebombing helicopters to operate at night.