Pilots survive Boeing 737 water bomber crash while battling bushfires in Western Australia | Western Australia

Two pilots battling a fire on the south coast of Western Australia have managed to free themselves after their Boeing 737 bomber crashed.

The National Large Air Tanker crashed at 4:15 p.m. Monday afternoon while responding to a brush fire in Fitzgerald River State Park, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said. Western Australia (Dfes).

Both pilots survived the crash with minor injuries and escaped the wreckage of the aircraft. They were picked up by helicopter and taken to hospital.

Police received the report of the crash around 4:40 p.m., just over an hour after the plane left Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport.

A bushfire watch and act warning had been issued for Fitzgerald River State Park on Monday morning. The fire had burned 900 hectares by evening, according to ABC Emergency.

The Western Australian government announced in December last year that the Boeing 737 fireliner nicknamed ‘Phoenix’ was the second large tanker to arrive in Western Australia and would be based in Busselton for the start of the flying season. fires.

The fireliner used to fight the California wildfires was funded by the Commonwealth, but the Western Australian government was expected to cover its operational costs when deployed to WA.

Catherine King, then acting minister for emergency management, said Australia’s aerial firefighting capability would be significantly boosted by the National Large Air Tanker.

“Phoenix is ​​a highly customized Boeing 737 – capable of reaching anywhere in the country in hours and dropping 15,000 liters of flame retardant or water,” King said.

The Australian Transport Safety Board and the Dfes will carry out separate investigations into the accident.

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Transportation Safety Board investigators will interview pilots and witnesses to understand the circumstances of the crash and examine aircraft wreckage when possible.

A large air tanker crashed into the Snowy Mountains during the 2020 summer black bushfires, killing three American firefighters.

Australia’s Transport Safety Board released its report on the incident in August last year, finding that the NSW Rural Fire Service sent the plane to an area with adverse conditions, without aerial surveillance, and relied on the pilot to assess the risk without providing all the information. required.

theguardian Gt

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