A Large Air Tanker (LAT) has arrived in Bundaberg, just in time for the next bushfire season.
The LAT will remain in Australia for the next four years as part of a landmark deal struck by the State Government in partnership with the Victorian Government.
“The Large Air Tanker is an important weapon in our firefighting arsenal,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“Right around the world, we’re seeing our climate changing. The threat of bushfires is increasing.
“This deal will ensure that our firefighters have access to this cutting-edge technology when they need it – helping to keep Queenslanders safe from the bushfire threat.”
The LAT will be based in Bundaberg for the duration of each of Queensland’s next four bushfire seasons.
The LAT’s arrival signals the start of an historic co-sharing arrangement with Victoria that will see the air tanker stay in Australia all year round for the next four years.
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, Mark Ryan, said the move was part of the Government’s commitment to supporting Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ bushfire response operations.
“The Queensland Government understands the important role aircraft play in helping QFES combat bushfires.
“The co-sharing arrangement with Victoria will ensure the LAT is at Queensland’s disposal for at least the next four bushfire seasons.
“This will deliver certainty and efficiencies because QFES will no longer need to contract a LAT on a season-by-season arrangement.”
Mr Ryan said the LAT would complement the substantial aerial firefighting fleet, which included a combination of planes and helicopters employed on an on-call basis.
“It’s important to note that the LAT will be complemented by all of the aircraft that form Australia’s national aerial fire-fighting fleet, and that includes another LAT located in New South Wales.
“Queensland asks a lot of our firefighters and emergency service volunteers when disasters strike, so it is only right they have the resources to respond effectively.
“This deal locks in the future of this aerial asset in Queensland.”
Bundaberg MP Tom Smith said he had looked forward to the LAT touching down in Bundaberg.
“Having the LAT here in Queensland just provides that extra layer of security for our bushfire-fighting capabilities.
“And having the LAT based here in Bundaberg makes perfect sense, given the airport facilities here and Bundaberg’s central location in relation to other areas of the state.”
“From its base in Bundaberg, it can reach either Proserpine in the north, the Queensland-New South Wales border in the south or Tambo in the west within one hour.”
QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said the LAT had a demonstrated ability to enhance bushfire response capabilities.
“It will be a critical part of QFES’ aerial firefighting fleet, which includes access to more than 150 call-when-needed planes and helicopters.
“Along with our dedicated personnel and purpose-built equipment, the aerial fleet puts us in a great position as we gear up for the 2021 bushfire season.”
Facts about the Large Air Tanker
- Two pilot crew
- 10,000 litre retardant capacity
- Gross weight: 31,000 kg
- Cruise speed (loaded) up to 670km/h
- Typical runway required 1,500m
- Can land with 80% of its load on board