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Bundaberg gets its 10k litre Q400MR firefighter

written by Adam Thorn | August 31, 2020

Conair Q400MR
Conair hails its Q400MR as “the most advanced emergency response airtanker available”

Queensland has finally taken delivery of its gigantic Q400MR firefighting aircraft – which can carry 10,000 litres of water or retardant.

The aircraft touched down at its new base at Bundaberg Airport earlier this week as part of a $15 million, five-year leasing deal.

Bundaberg mayor Jack Dempsey, who implemented the project, told the ABC the new plane can reach Proserpine in northern Queensland, Tambo in western Queensland and Coffs Harbour in NSW within an hour of departing.

The tanker arrived from Canada and its crew were immediately placed into quarantine for two weeks.

Previously, the state only had the option to borrow similar-sized aircraft from interstate and that was dependent on availability.

The Q400MR is hailed by manufacturers Conair as “the most advanced emergency response airtanker available” and is certified for use on unpaved airports, all weathers and can also take passengers and cargo.

It will be used by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and comes as Australia has seen the first bushfires of the season begin in the NT.


“Bundaberg has a proven record of supporting aerial firefighting efforts when crews working from the area set a record for the most water bombers filled in one day,” said Dempsey.

“At the height of the Gregory River fires, a total of 114 planeloads of water and foam left the airport in December last year.”

Earlier this year, a new paper by former senior fire and emergency service leaders argued the country needs to radically change its bushfire strategy to concentrate on extinguishing blazes when they’re still small.


The investigation, written by the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) group, argued Australia must invest in automated sensors that can allow for the immediate deployment of firefighting aircraft.

“This is a major change in our approach and requires significant investment in early detection and rapidly deployable aerial and ground firefighting forces,” the report argued.

“To match the escalating threat and cost of bushfires, Australia must upgrade its firefighting capabilities.”

Australian Aviation has also revealed that there were more accidents and safety incidents involving aerial firefighting aircraft in the financial year covering the last bushfire season than any in the previous 20.

The findings form part of an ATSB submission into the so-called bushfire royal commission, created in the wake of the “Black Summer” bushfire crisis.

Comments (9)

  • James


    Awesome, about time an aircraft is actually based here. Its also good for the economy in region of Bundaberg.

  • Dale


    ‘Gigantic’ for a Q400 is a bit hyperbolic don’t you think?

  • Kenneth


    Just don’t understand why Australia yet doesn’t have any Australian registered firefighting aircrafts of a decent size, such as RJ85 or Q400, that can be used all around the country.
    And, in winter, being used in other countries needing help, such as North America.
    Even some C215 or C415 would be helpful in certain areas I guess.
    It’s an investment in the country, not a cost. Leasing from overseas is a cost, not an investment in my eyes.

  • Kenneth


    So far, I’m still surprised that Australia hasn’t invested in some decent size firefighting aircraft on Australian registration. Such as Q400, RJ85 or even some C215/415’s. They can be used nation wide, and be leased to other countries during the Australian winter.
    It would be an investment in my eyes. The current situation, where Australia has to lease them from overseas every year is a cost. Just my humble opinion.

  • Dan


    I tend to agree. Perhaps a firefighter unit within the RAAF could be raised up and utilised from Darwin in the North to Tasmania in the South. Just because this has not happened before doesn’t mean it can’t be created in the future. Maybe we need the old dinosaurs to move out of the way so we can use the RAAF or Army for other thing besides conflicts or humanitarian aid missions.



    The RAAF should have two squadrons (24) of CL415 waterbombers on hand fulltime, it is the only organization that has the infrastructure to operate these aircraft, train the crews, and operate these aircraft to there full potential .
    For the last 75 years the RAAF has spent millions of dollars on fighter aircraft and bombers, the only purpose of these aircraft
    is to kill people and destroy property. How many people have they killed in all that time in Australia…NIL
    The enemy of Australia is bush fires, they have killed hundreds of people and destroyed billions of dollars worth of property.
    It would make sense for the RAAF to operate water bombing aircraft that can save lives and property, and save billions of dollars to help the Australian economy

  • Ron Spencer


    Yes and I would think that the vast majority of Australians would agree fully with your comments

  • Isn’t there a water dump unit that can be fitted in Hercules aircraft. I seem to remember this from some time ago. Perhaps a better option if the RAAF is to be co-opted in this role?

  • I seem to remember from some time ago that there is a water bombing fitment that can be used in C-130 Hercules. Would this be a better option if the RAAF is to be used in this role.

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