HomeNewsLarge Air Tanker arrives at Bundaberg Airport

Large Air Tanker arrives at Bundaberg Airport

Conair Q400MR
Aviation enthusiast and photographer Dan Beck said he watched the Conair Q400MR fly in over his house on Monday afternoon.

A Large Air Tanker, Conair Q400MR, that will help fight fires during this year’s bushfire season, has arrived at Bundaberg Airport from overseas.

The Conair Q400MR is one of the most advanced air tankers available today and is capable of dropping 10,000 litres of water, along with retardant and firefighting foam.

It features a quick response on initial dispatches and turnarounds, a cruise speed of 370 knots and a drop speed of 125 knots.

Firefighting aircraft previously used in the Bundaberg Region included an air tractor AT802F, which was only capable of carrying up to 3200 litres of water, fire retardant and fire suppressant.

Aviation enthusiast and photographer Dan Beck said he watched the Conair Q400MR fly in over his house on Monday afternoon.

“It was quite a special to see it fly in over Bundaberg,” Dan said.

“I went down to the airport to take some photos of it and got a wave from the crew.”

Dan, 20, said he tracked the Conair Q400MR flight and saw it had left Oakland Airport (California) on 21 August. It stopped over at Honolulu on 22 August and Honaiara on 24 August, before arriving in Brisbane on 24 August and then making its way to Bundaberg.

ABC Wide Bay reports the Queensland Government confirmed the international crew and pilots are following a COVID-safe plan, and have gone into quarantine for two weeks.

Mayor welcomes Conair Q400MR

Mayor Jack Dempsey has welcomed the arrival of a large air tanker in Bundaberg to assist with firefighting efforts across Queensland.

“Bundaberg is an ideal location to base an aircraft with capability to carry 10,000 litres of water,” Mayor Dempsey said.

Earlier this month I called on the Government to implement this project, which was being discussed among emergency services.

“I thank the Government for choosing Bundaberg as the base.

“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.

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

“The large air tanker could reach Proserpine in Northern Queensland, Tambo in Western Queensland and right down to Coffs Harbour in New South Wales within an hour of leaving the Bundaberg Airport.”

Airbase Operator Course Large Air Tanker
Thirty personnel from QFES, Queensland Rural Fire Service and SES hit the tarmac at Bundaberg Airport for extensive training in an Airbase Operator Course.

Earlier this month local emergency personnel undertook training of Airbase Operators Course at the Bundaberg Airport.

The three-day course had participants travel from all around the North Coast Region to learn how to support aerial firefighting operations.

During the last bushfire season QFES deployed more than 40 aircraft across the state, including a 737 Large Air Tanker from New South Wales, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter contracted from the United States and military aircraft for mapping major bushfires.

Conair Q400MR features

  • Quick response on initial dispatches and turn-arounds
  • High climb rate and excellent slow speed flight characteristics
  • Certified for use on unpaved airports
  • All weather capable for positioning flights
  • Multi role capabilities – passenger, cargo or aerial fire control

Aircraft specifications

  • Maximum take-off weight: 67,200 lbs
  • Maximum zero fuel weight: 60,400 lbs
  • Maximum landing weight: 61,750 lbs

Delivery system specifications

  • Maximum tank capacity: 10,000 litres (2642 US gallons)

Aircraft performance

  • Cruise speed loaded: 370 knots
  • Drop Speed: 125 knots



  1. Great to see although questions are there, why it is here when California is suffering from savage bushfires and asking for assistance? From the news – More than 15,000 firefighters today are battling over two dozen major fires and lightning complexes across California.

  2. We’ve all heard the terms ‘bigger is better’ and ‘size matters’ , but is there truth in this? It may just depend on what your needs are. What’s going to provide the best solution? Something large (Q400) that can deliver one substantial load but over a longer turnaround cycle between loads, or something smaller that deliver load after load in quick succession (AT802F) by scooping water from rivers and lakes nearby? There are many factors in determining the best solution. Geographical data such as water source locations, historical fire locations and predicted risk areas, aircraft turnaround time(for Q400), range of the aircraft (can it really take 10000 litres of water with full fuel?). Whats the litres dropped per hour performance for the fire location ? Will one big drop be more effective than multiple smaller drops for the fire type? What kind of ground fire attack is available to the various locations? Risk to people? There’s a heap of data to crunch in determining the positioning of different types of aircraft that can provide the most effective type of support for that area, that fire type and fire location…..Fire management is a massive co-ordinational effort between all the department and industry people in their respective fields of expertise to protect communities and nature from harm every year. Whether it’s a 10000 litre or 3200 litre scenario, I’m hopeful that it’s been a well calculated decision. I’m a chopper guy myself, (originally from bundy) operating Kamov KA-32 helicopters (beasts) in Indonesia, fitted with 4500 litre water buckets that just dump and dump and dump all day long.

  3. My dad organised all of it, and Cleanupcrew we locked in the air tanker before USA’s wild fires and the plane cost $16 million.

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