RJ85 Large Air Tankers don’t put out fires. Crews on the fire ground put out fires. RJ85 Large Air Tankers do however assist ground crews in their job, by laying down long retardant lines (or gel or foam lines) to slow the spread of fires and give crews on the ground much needed time and space to extinguish fires.
For this reason, Australian aviation company Field Air has teamed up with Canadian aviation company Conair to bring RJ85 Large Air Tankers into Australia. Field Air and Conair are both specialist aerial fire aircraft operators, with various fixed wing aircraft to offer local fire authorities. The RJ85 fixed wing Large Air Tanker aircraft is undoubtedly the star of our fleets.
Used extensively in North America, the RJ85 Air Tanker is fitted with an external retardant tank with a capacity of 12,500 litres. It can travel at over 700 km/hr to get to the fire ground and once there, drop a retardant line with selectable coverage level to suit the fire (eg. CL8 for thick canopies or CL1 for grass fires).
Built around the relatively young and reliable BAE Avro RJ85 series aircraft, there are eight RJ85 Air Tankers currently in use.