Australians lease 5 air tankers from Canadian company

Conair’s fleet of CV-580 air tankers

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) in the Australian state of Victoria is leasing five air tankers and one “bird dog” aircraft from a Canadian company for the down under summer fire season. Two CV-580 air tankers, three single engine Air Tractor 802’s, and a Turbo Commander 690 bird dog are being provided by Conair in what the CFA is considering a trial of the larger air tankers.

CV-580 capacity
Capacity of the CV-580

The CV-580 has been used in Canada for a decade, but this is believed to be the first time they have seen action in Australia. The aircraft can carry up to 2,100 U.S. gallons and has a top speed of 310 mph.

A group of Canadian pilots and mechanics flew across the Pacific with the planes in early December, stopping to refuel at several islands along the way. The aircraft will be based at Avalon, Victoria (map) for the fire season.

The Canadian air tankers will join the three Erickson Air-Crane helicopters, Elvis, Elsie, and Marty, which are also leased for the next several months.

This video shows the CFA testing the CV-580’s at the Avalon Airfield in early February, 2011.

The video below, posted on YouTube in 2007, shows CV-580’s in action, dropping on numerous fires in British Columbia.

In what we called the “Siege of ’08”, four CV-580’s were sent from Canada to assist with the hundreds of wildfires that were started by a massive lighting barrage in northern California.

A CV-580 operated by Conair crashed in central British Columbia on July 31, 2010, killing the two pilots.

While we’re on the subject of air tankers, the web site has dozens of excellent photos of mostly amphibious aircraft that were taken at an air show in 2006, the Gidroaviasalon (“hydro-aviation exhibition”) held at the Beriev test center near Gelendzhik on the Russian Black Sea. Here is a very impressive photo of the two Russian-made amphibious air tankers flying in formation. The upper one is the Be-200, and the other is the A-42 Albatross. The site also has several other photos of these two air tankers operating at the air show.

a-42 Be-200
A-42 “Albatross” (lower aircraft) and the Be-200 (upper aircraft). Photo:

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.