• ​New MD87 large air tanker (LAT) is expected to arrive in Perth next week
  • LAT can drop 11,350 litres of water and reach speeds of 800 kph
  • LAT is expected to be based at RAAF Base Pearce

Western Australia’s fire response capabilities are expected to be bolstered with the arrival of a large air tanker (LAT) next week.

The LAT is a MD87 aircraft that can drop 11,350 litres of water and reach speeds of 800 kph.

The National Aerial Firefighting Centre, which manages Australia’s aerial firefighting fleet, has advised the Department of Fire and Emergency Services that Western Australia will be allocated the LAT following the Federal Government’s funding boost to lease more aircraft from overseas.

The announcement follows the McGowan Government’s advocacy for greater resources for Western Australia’s aerial fleet, which included basing a LAT in Perth for the first time as well as more aircraft.

A LAT was first used in Western Australia in February 2015 in Northcliffe and again last December in Collie when the NSW Rural Fire Service graciously lent the State their 737 aircraft.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“This is great news and I thank the Federal Government for acting swiftly following our requests.

“Minister Logan and I have been advocating for additional aerial equipment to be based here in Western Australia.

“We contacted the Prime Minister and the Federal Government outlining the need for greater aerial support and mitigation assistance so it is pleasing the Federal Government’s funding increase in the nation’s aerial fleet has allowed for a large air tanker to be based here in WA.

“WA’s fire and emergency services do an outstanding job so it’s vital we equip them with more resources like this boost to our aerial fleet to help combat fires across our State.

“With a State as big as Western Australia, boosting our aerial fleet will ensure large amounts of retardant can be dumped more quickly in Perth and the regions during out of control fires.”

Comments attributed to Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan:

“This is a great result for Western Australia given the size of our State and the wide range of fire conditions we can face from the north to the south.

“The McGowan Government has been advocating for some time now for more aircraft for our aerial fleet including basing a large air tanker in Perth for the first time.

“Ideally we would love to see more aircraft added to our aerial fleet including another Erickson Air Crane, but this new LAT is a very welcome addition.

“But I would stress that aerial resources do not work in isolation and it is the firefighters and other emergency services workers on the ground that play an important role as well.

“I would also strongly urge West Australians to do their part as well and make a fire plan by visiting firechat.wa.gov.au because we cannot have a water bomber over every house or a fire truck on every corner.”