After nine seasons in Victoria, the RJ85 has passed the “B391” baton onto Conair’s Dash 8-400AT C-FFQF. This airtanker is now on standby at Avalon Airport. Tanker 391 began it’s journey to Australia in late November, leaving behind frosty weather in Abbotsford Canada, travelling through Oakland, Honolulu, the Solomon Islands before arriving on the continent.
The tanker operated out of Bordeaux from July to September, supporting the Government of France during the 2023 fire season. It completed it’s heavy maintenance during the fall from Conair’s hangars before migrating south. This tanker began operations in 2021, operating its first season in Alaska.
Dash 8-400AT B391 will be joined in Avalon by the permanently Australian-based Dash 8-400AT C-FFQE “B390”, which completed its seasonal contract in Queensland as B141 in December. The Dash 8-400AT B141 airtanker had been based in Bundaberg from September to December, supporting firefighters in the region.
Also working in Australia this 2023/2024 bushfire season from October to February for Conair/Field Air is Bomber B164, an RJ85 based in Dubbo, New South Wales. It deployed to Busselton in Western Australia in November when duty called, a shared resource between wildfire agencies. The large airtanker and crews were proud to support communities in need as a reinforcement during a period of increased fire threat when Western Australia’s LAT was grounded for a period of time.