- New Learjet with Linescanner camera will map large-scale emergencies such as bushfires and floods
- Travels at 700kmh to reach the farthest regions of the State in just three hours
- Initial 90-day contract represents $750,000 investment in emergency mapping technology
Western Australia’s aerial firefighting fleet now includes a Learjet, which can travel the length of the State in three hours to map large-scale fires and other emergencies such as floods.
On board the jet is a sophisticated Linescanner camera that can map the aerial-view footprint of an emergency event through smoke and cloudy conditions.
Satellite-based mapping systems cannot be used in those conditions.
The mapping capacity allows intelligence units to pinpoint bushfire hotspots and work out where to concentrate aerial and land-based firefighting efforts.
The Linescanner uses a rotating digital camera to create extremely high resolution images taken from altitudes of between 15,000 to 27,000 feet, which can be quickly imported into disaster-mapping software to plot disaster responses.
The scanner and jet have already been deployed to bushfires in the Goldfields and Great Southern to support ground-based firefighting efforts.
The scanner and Learjet have been contracted for an initial 90-day, $750,000 trial with State funding and Federal Government investment through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.
The aerial fleet is jointly operated by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ (DBCA) Parks and Wildlife Service.
With the addition of the Learjet, the DFES-DBCA aerial fleet now consists of 30 rotary and fixed wing aircraft and the Erickson Aircrane water-bombing helicopter ‘Georgia Peach’.
Comments attributed to Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan:
“The Learjet’s ability to quickly reach inaccessible parts of the State and send back data about a bushfire or flood almost in real-time is an incredible asset in a vast State like ours.
“With the Learjet flying at between 15,000 and 27,000 feet, the Linescanner is able to map large disasters even in low-visibility conditions such as in heavy cloud and smoke and at night in a matter of about 15 minutes.
“It can accurately plot a fire’s position, showing the intensity of active fire fronts and information on areas that have already been burnt out.
“Despite this sophisticated mapping ability, it is still incumbent on individuals to be prepared about what they would do if a bushfire threatened their lives and property.
“To make a bushfire survival plan visit firechat.wa.gov.au because you cannot outrun or outlast a bushfire, so take five minutes to outsmart it.”
Comments attributed to Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Linda Reynolds:
“Our national aerial firefighting arrangements are a tremendous validation of the benefits of national co-operation.
“The national aerial firefighting fleet offers greater protection to Australian communities and essential infrastructure threatened by increasingly frequent and severe bushfires.
“The Australian Government has boosted their annual $14.8 million investment in aerial firefighting to nearly $26 million to ensure additional resources are available to firefighters.
“A sophisticated fleet of more than 140 specialised, highly mobile aircraft are positioned around the country to protect our communities.
“The new Learjet in WA will be a real game changer for firefighters, enabling crews to see through smoke, detect embers and hotspots and map in real-time.”