A Boeing 737 specialized in fighting forest fires has crashed in Australia. The two pilots were airlifted to a hospital with minor injuries. The aircraft was owned by Coulson Aviation, a company specializing in the provision of firefighting aircraft and helicopters.
Crash in Australia
On February 6 at about 4:40 p.m. (local time), a Boeing 737-3H4 crashed in Fitzerald River National Park (Western Australia, Australia). The 27-year-old aircraft was being used by Coulson Aviation to fight fires in the area. It took off from Busselton Margaret River Airport after filling its tanks (15,141.65 liters). Once on the national park, the aircraft performed a reconnaissance of the drop zone but during its second pass, as shown on the attached tweet, the plane crashed. No images or explanations are yet available. Both pilots are alive and have been airlifted to a hospital. A spokesman for the hospital said the pilots had minor injuries.
This aircraft had been flying for 27 years, including service with the U.S. Southwest airline fleet. On June 23, 2022, it had joined the fleet of the company Coulson Aviation (tweet below). This one was number 139 (Fireliner Tanker 139) and had arrived in Australia on December 9 last year. In recent days, it was being used to support Australian firefighters in the southwest of the country.
The U.S. company Coulson Aviation specializes in forest firefighting aircraft. Its fleet is very diverse as it includes CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Black Hawk and S-61 helicopters but also C-130 Hercules and Boeing 737 aircraft. These aircraft are currently deployed in Australia and in South America.
It should be noted that it also employed the largest seaplane water bomber: the Martin Mars. This seaplane designed and used during World War II, was modified for forest firefighting. It had a capacity to drop 27,254.96 liters of water, the equivalent of 4.4 Canadair CL415 of the French Civil Security. Coulson Aviation has used two of these giant aircraft against numerous fires. However, their maintenance proved too complicated and the aircraft were retired from service in the early 2010s..
Article updated on February 8, 2023 at 2:55 pm (GMT+1) with the addition of video of the burning aircraft.
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