Elvis will be joined by a second aircrane, Gypsy Lady, due to arrive and commence operations from Ballarat in early December.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said that Elvis and Gypsy Lady were part of a 41-strong air fleet strategically positioned across the state to respond to this season’s predicted fire risk.
“Victoria’s fire agencies have been working to ensure the state has the right mix of aircraft in the best locations for the upcoming fire season,” he said.
“We’ve confirmed the positions for the fleet based on the fire season forecast and recommendations of the fire agencies. To respond to the increased risk of grassfire this summer, we’re basing our firebombing aircraft in central locations which mean they have a great reach across potentially at-risk areas.”
The 41 available aircraft is the same base fleet as the previous summer and most will be in position within the next month. Additional aircraft are also available on call across Victoria as needed.
The stars of the show this year are Aircranes Elvis and Gypsy Lady, powerful firebombing helicopters capable of carrying up to 9000 litres of water or foam and reaching a cruising speed of 200km/h, and two Sikorsky helicopters which can each carry 3,500 litres of water.
Five medium and fifteen light helicopters will support the four heavy helicopters, alongside a fleet of fixed wing bombers and two Infra Red Linescan aircraft with specialist equipment for reconnaissance support.
“Aircraft can be moved across the state based on fire risk and need during the season to locations from which they can provide first response aerial support to our on-the-ground firefighters,” Mr Lapsley said.
“But for the first time, helicopters will be located at Hamilton, Healesville and Shepparton for most of the season.
“Victorians should be confident that we’ve got the appropriate aircraft with the size and strength to support DSE, CFA and MFB fire-fighters on the ground this summer.”
The Aircrane and Sikorsky helicopters are co-funded with the Federal Government through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.
** Fire Services Commissioner Victoria media release **