Coulson Aviation instates interim measures
The measures are response to a preliminary report on the crash of one of its Australian firefighting aircraft in February 2023
Coulson Aviation has implemented a number of interim measures to its firefighting operations, in response to a preliminary report on the non-fatal crash of one of its Fireliners in February 2023.
The measures include an increased minimum drop speed and altitude. In addition, the company will take additional steps to ensure that ‘any Bird Dog operating with large airtankers are appropriately trained’. The term ‘Bird Dog’ refers to a fixed-wing aircraft involved in the coordination of aerial firefighting operations.
The report, released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), contained no findings or analysis. However, it did outline the specific details of the incident, which occurred on 6 February 2023 near the Fitzgerald River National Park in Western Australia as the aircraft was responding to a wildfire.
The report found that the Boeing 737 Fireliner, known as ‘Phoenix’, had descended to a radio height of less than 100ft in preparation to drop its remaining retardant. This brought the aircraft to a dangerously low altitude. The aircraft subsequently attempted to pull up approximately two seconds prior to impact, but ‘only attained a positive rate of climb just before impact with terrain’. The aircraft then hit a ridgeline at an elevation of approximately 222ft.
Coulson Aviation stated that it has been working with the ATSB ‘to provide the information required to understand the circumstances of the incident’, adding that: “We look forward to continued engagement with the ATSB investigators when the analysis phase of the investigation begins.”