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red750

NSW Boeing 737 Fire Bomber

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Posted (edited)

If the 737 is swooping at low level around houses to put out fires, then the situation must be pretty dire and most people should have left those houses long ago. I suspect that those remaining would be only too pleased to put up with a bit of noise when they can see smoke and hear flames nearby. 

Edited by rgmwa
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Much as I love Aeroplanes, they can't solve all our problems.

Resorting to this sort of heavy hardware smacks of American influence gone mad.

Why don't we think laterally and improve our fire prevention?

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7 hours ago, Old Koreelah said:

In many actual firefights Airtractors struggle to lift 2700litres due to the hot thin air, even at low elevations. But... their turnaround times and ability to get in close to the fire should make them a better resource than a repurposed airliner.

 

Then there’s the turbulence. I’ve seen footage of a converted DC-10 water bomber’s wings folding up during a fire drop. Australian fire weather extremes might exceed the structural limits of a 1960’s high-altitude airliner.

 

It’s time to question the power of the bushfire industry.

I remember seeing the same thing (wings breaking) on a C130. Looked like it exceeded negative g when it released it’s load, ie on the video it appeared the wings failed downward.

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7 minutes ago, red750 said:

Video of the C130 crash, followed by a video of a number of firebombers.

 

C130 firebomber crash

Must be old age or something. I could have sworn the wings failed downward, certainly doesn’t look like it in the video!

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Here's a rather interesting L.A. Times article about aerial firefighting (from 2008) - but even though the article is 11 yrs old, I believe a lot of the points it makes, still hold true - you can't beat fire trucks and firefighters on the ground. There are many conditions under which aerial tankers are ineffective.

 

https://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-wildfires29-2008jul29-story.html

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 I think they would put up with that as long as the plane is effective at doing it's job If it's got to operate off a sealed strip to stop engines being killed by debris and not go through the thin tarmac because of tyre pressures which is likely to be the case the areas that can be effectively covered may be few. . If you have to get water and fuel into it the time away  from the site may be too large to get control of the fire. I say again the vis out of these cockpits is not good. Nev

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Posted (edited)

The NSW Govt would quite likely have been far better off, to buy a couple of the BAE 146/Avro RJ85 airtankers, instead of the 737-300.

 

The RJ85 carries less fire retardant, 11,400L, as compared to the 737's 15,150L - but the RJ85 has the perfect design for firebombing.

 

It has 4 engines, making an "engine-out" situation easier to cope with - it has superb STOL and low-speed handling characteristics, fabulous brakes, excellent steep approach and climb angles, and it can use nearly every reasonable size available runway that's close to the fire, making very quick turnaround times. 20-30 minute turnaround times are quoted for the RJ85. In addition, it's quiet.

On top of all that, it can still do 380kts to get to the fire.

 

The RJ85 engines are your run-of-the-mill heli engines, the Avco Lycoming ALF502R-3, which uses the Avco T55 core engine, which is fitted to Chinooks, the Bell 214, and a heap of marine and industrial applications. These little engines are common, and highly reliable.

 

The BAE146/RJ85 was actually designed for use in high/hot conditions in remote locations - a perfect fit with firefighting.

 

There are still 220 BAE146/RJ85's in service, with 50 more in long-term storage.

16 of the 22 airtankers on call from Conair in the U.S. are RJ85's, and one of the RJ85's provided sterling service in 3 States of Australia in 2016.

The airtanker companies say they see no problem with getting another 20-25 yrs service from these highly capable little jets.

 

https://www.aerosociety.com/news/whisperjet-waterbomber/

 

https://conair.ca/conair_fleet/rj85at

 

https://www.regional-services.com/avro-rj85-airtanker-successfully-completes-australian-fire-fighting-missions/

Edited by onetrack
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 The only thing good about piston engines is they are more fuel efficient at the lower levels. than anything else.. Props can fail too (Pitch locks etc) and you need auto feather, but even high bypass ratio fan jets use obscene amounts of fuel at low level.. I would go for turbo props. Jet engines win by a mile for reliability, but they are not in their element at those levels. Sweepback is not helpful  either at low levels in  and slow in turbulence. They rely on active yaw dampers. Nev

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What's wrong with the CL-415?  Takes 6,000 litres instead of 15,000, but it scoops it up a hell of a lot quicker.  (If you have a suitable river or lake that is).   With the January fires in the Huon Valley it would have been perfect, there's long straight stretches of the Huon River it could have used.

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In the January fires we watched a N.S.W fire 737 make two runs, water bombing just west of our home. The fire had crowned and the police had visited us to ask us to evacuate. There was a small twin turboprop spotter plane circling above, a Hercules, a couple of helicopters, and the 737. A busy time indeed. The 737 came in low, maybe 500', slow, and all flaps clearly hanging out. Hardly any noise (not that it would have bothered anyone). It disappeared over the trees before the drop so we didn't see that. All in all, quite a sight. Our personal airshow.

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22 hours ago, Marty_d said:

What's wrong with the CL-415?  Takes 6,000 litres instead of 15,000, but it scoops it up a hell of a lot quicker.  (If you have a suitable river or lake that is).   With the January fires in the Huon Valley it would have been perfect, there's long straight stretches of the Huon River it could have used.

Nothing apart from the nearly 38 million dollars purchase price!!!!!!!! For that money you could buy around twenty 802's with a drop capacity of 60,000 litres. 10X the load of a 415.

Mention was made of 802's not carting 3000 litres, with full fuel they shouldn't but after a couple of loads can carry 3000 litres. Normally work 3.5 hours for a fuel cycle. 

 

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Posted (edited)

The DC10 carries 40,000 litres and contrary to what some say has a good drop patern. There are tasks for aircraft of all capacities on fires, from medium helis through to VLAT's, they need to be utilised to their strengths.

The Canadairs are a very interesting machine, I like the 215's because of the radials and steam driven gauges. Came across these ferrying back to the Prairies from Quebec. Got a guided tour, very interesting, also got a tour through  the turbine 415 in Quebec. The instrument panel no where near as appealing to me as the 215.A4.thumb.jpg.edf50cbb4040c17c8f17dc5ba9adbba7.jpgDSC03232.thumb.JPG.22eb1a723e6c8fdc5ec2a9bbae2e8545.JPGDSC03229.thumb.JPG.03c92cf718fa055ce161e33d4aa52b32.JPGDSC03252.thumb.JPG.6a568d97fe1c3c2988791a0a6d382e11.JPG

Edited by Glenn1
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Posted (edited)

Seem to recall a group of AT 802 was argued a better solution, especially considering theres a bunch in AU already, and could deliver larger qty faster than any other option

Maintenece and pilots aren't too hard to find - comparatively.

Also some point about fill turn around times too as we cant keep up with volumes for large aircraft in many places

We don't have rivers and dams suitable, don't have sealed strips everywhere

Large aircraft look impressive but some say money better spent other ways

Edited by jetjr
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Those ex airline planes are very old in terms of frame life and fatigued and were never built to high "G" figures in the first There's also the aspect of strength when depressurised.  Pulling the wings off won't be that rare an event. Nev

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21 hours ago, jetjr said:

Seem to recall a group of AT 802 was argued a better solution, especially considering theres a bunch in AU already, and could deliver larger qty faster than any other option

Maintenece and pilots aren't too hard to find - comparatively.

Also some point about fill turn around times too as we cant keep up with volumes for large aircraft in many places

We don't have rivers and dams suitable, don't have sealed strips everywhere

Large aircraft look impressive but some say money better spent other ways

You nailed it, Jet. I suspect the authorities have caught the CASA disease which causes bureaucrats to ignore one of the most important safety factors of all: the need to have a healthy and viable aviation industry.

 

When the next fire disaster strikes, they will want instant access to a pool of skilled water bomber pilots and well-maintained aircraft suited to the job. Australia doesn't have unlimited numbers of either, and-given our long drought- we can't expect them to always be available when needed.

I believe there are only three Ag. pilot training facilities in the entire country, with retirements imminent...

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 And I suppose they have facilities for Boeing endorsements with all the ad ons for low level extreme ops.?  Just doing it in a simulator wouldn't be enough would it ?. Firebombers don't need swept back wings. Not an asset. Nev

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I was under the impression the Yank/Canadian pilots were to fly the Coulson airtankers locally?

 

NEWS ITEM QUOTE:  "They (the Coulson aircraft) are accompanied by a ten-year operational contract, where Coulson will provide all flight and maintenance personnel" ... END QUOTE

Edited by onetrack

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Here's an image of the Conair BAe Avro 146 Firebomber at Avalon in 2015.

 

n355ac-bae-avro-146-rj85a-ymav-20150301_16689485551_o.jpg

Edited by red750
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Had a look on flight radar to see how the 737 is going, N138GC. Yesterday flew 7 missions from Coff's to a fire near Taree, old bar. Flight time about one hour. Two 802 Airtractors operating from Taree would have smashed it, it would be interesting to know how many AT802's could be had for the cost of the 737.

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Today will give a better idea of how each asset is used.

 

A helicopter with its little bag of water seems a waste of space against these volumes, but last year I watched a big grass and scrub fire doused in about 20 minutes by the actions of an Ericcson sky crane which repeatedly  threw a rectagular mass of water at the downwind flanks, which where then further douse by two small helicopters allowing the fire trucks to run right up to the flanks of the fire further upwind, completely killing the flames. They just worked along the sides of the fore for about 20 minutes until they could finally snuff the front.

 

I suspect the 737 will be to dump a long stream of retardant along urban edges and reasonably clear of the turbulence, so that when the oncoming fire hits, the flames die down and don't ingnite so many houses/kill so many people from radiated heat.

 

That's only my theory; it would be good if the fire services explained in real terms what the strategy was, when they get the time, rather than the childish "make sure you have a plan".

 

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If they don't get rain it will be more like hell on earth for all concerned. It's 2 months still to the hottest month. The 737 is down in the smoke , turbulence and treetops which looks seriously dangerous to me. but it's dumping a serious amount of retardant/water not just weeing on it. Nev

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4 hours ago, Thruster88 said:

... it would be interesting to know how many AT802's could be had for the cost of the 737.

I know where a couple of them have been sitting idle for months, along with a highly experienced pilot.

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