The first large air tanker (LAT) to be based in Western Australia touched down at RAAF Base Pearce today adding a significant new asset to the State’s aerial firefighting fleet.
The LAT, an Erickson Aero MD 87, can drop 11,350 litres of water or retardant and travel at speeds over 650 km/h.
This is the first time that WA has had a LAT based in the State and follows the McGowan Government’s longstanding advocacy for greater resources for WA’s aerial firefighting fleet.
The new aircraft has been delivered through the Federal Government’s recent $20 million funding boost for Australia’s aerial firefighting fleet in December.
The decision to base the aircraft in WA was made by the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, a business unit of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council.
The new aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Pearce and managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
As stated by Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan:
“The arrival of this new aircraft is fantastic news for Western Australia and I would like to thank the Federal Government for the funding increase and the National Aerial Firefighting Centre for choosing to base a large air tanker here.
“We obviously have a significant amount of territory to cover and this MD 87 will be a great help.
“It cannot work in isolation though and it is part of a multi-faceted aerial firefighting fleet that includes helicopters and light planes.
“Any aerial support still needs firefighters on the ground and it’s important to recognise that it is a combined approach that brings the best results.”
As stated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
“I would like to thank the Federal Government for their funding increase that has led to more aerial firefighting resources for Western Australia.
“I am sure that this large air tanker will be a very welcome sight for our firefighters when they are battling a fire on the ground.
“We have vast national parks that cover a wide range of vegetation and terrains and this new aircraft will make a significant difference when there is restricted access for our on-the-ground resources.
“However, like any firefighting resource, it has its limits and needs to be used in conjunction with the rest of the aerial firefighting fleet and firefighters at the fire front for the best possible results.”
Emergency Services Minister’s office – 6552 6300