Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Conair Aerial Firefighting Dash-8-Q400MR C-FFQE - Plus Aerotech UH-60A Black Hawk Helicopter VH-UHR - Both Arrive into Bundaberg Airport for the 2023 Bushfire Season

On Tuesday 29 August, Canadian-based Conair Aerial Firefighting Dash-8-Q400MR C-FFQE was spotted soon after arriving into Bundaberg Airport ahead the upcoming Queensland bushfire season. It touched down direct from Melbourne (Avalon) where it has been stored since February.

This is the fourth year that the Canadian aircraft and crew members of the Large Air Tanker (LAT) have been deployed to Bundaberg Airport, meaning the state will again not have to borrow aircraft from other states to fight dangerous bushfires.

Again this year, the Dash-8 will be based at Bundaberg Airport and take up the radio callsign of "Bomber 141".  It will be based in Bundaberg for Queensland’s bushfire season and will be sent to Victoria again for its fire season, which coincides with Queensland’s wet season.

The Dash-8 has a 670km/h travel time meaning the bomber can quickly reach other parts of the state if needed, potentially saving lives and communities all over Queensland. It is able to fly the 300-kilometre direct journey from Bundaberg to Brisbane in 30 minutes at top speed.

Meanwhile, also noted arriving into Bundaberg Airport, also on Tuesday 29 August, was a new aerial firefighting helicopter to make a first first into the region in the form of Aerotech Aircraft Holdings (Aerotech Helicopters) Pickering Aviation (Sikorsky) UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter VH-UHR.

It arrived from its Adelaide (Parafield) base via Mildura, Griffith, Dubbo, Moree, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.  It looks to be assigned the radio callsign of "Helitak 516".

Of interest, the Black Hawk is one of four acquired by Aerotech that were previously flown by the United States Army.  VH-UHR (Serial 70-343) was previously flown as 81-23621 with US Army Aviation and was reportedly flown by Company C, 1-168th AVN, California Army National Guard.

VH-UHR was registered and delivered to Aerotech at Parafield in January this year.  It was noted that the Black Hawk carried the US registration marking N60004 before having the Australian registration marking VH-UHR applied to its side prior to delivery.

VH-UHR is the 3rd flyable UH-60 for Aerotech and will eventually join sisterships VH-UHG and VH-UHS in service.  There's a 4th Black Hawk that was delivered to Aerotech in 2022 that is to be used for spare parts for the others.

UPDATE!  On Thursday 31 August, Agair Logistics P/L Gulfstream Aerospace (AeroCommander) 695-A JetProp 1000 VH-LMC "Birddog 125" was noted arriving into Bundaberg Airport from Stawell in Victoria.  It is assumed that it will again provide airborne support for C-FFQE - and possibly VH-UHR - during this coming bushfire season.

Photos taken by Jan Kretschmer, Hayden Matthew Alexander and Daniel Gorza  ©

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