NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed that three crew members of a leased C-130 Hercules firefighting water bomber were killed this afternoon when their aircraft impacted heavily with the ground and exploded in an active fire zone.
CAPTION: A NSW Rural Fire Service C-130 Hercules sits along side Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules on the tarmac at RAAF Base Richmond during Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20. Photo by Sergeant Christopher Dickson.
Flight-tracking contact was lost with the large air tanker N134CG at around 1.30pm today.
The aircraft was working on a large fire to the north of Adaminaby in the Snowey Mountains south of Canberra.
Local ground crews witnessed the crash and saw a large fireball rise from the scene.
RAAF P-8A Poseidon A47-005, callsign ‘Blackcat 50’ and a number of military helicopters were involved in the search for the wreckage.
It took a number of hours to confirm and photograph the crash site, because it was in a very active fire zone.
It is believed to have been on a water-bombing run against the fire when the crash happened.
- NSW Premier confirmed three people killed in crash
- Victims named
- All three killed were US residents.
- The aircraft impacted heavily with the ground and a large fireball was seen by witnesses – “There is very little at all left intact” police officer in charge of the crash site said.
- No cause known at this time.
- Wreckage is now located and has been photographed.
- Locating the wreckage took several hours because the C-130 was operating in an active fire zone at the time.
- There was (posted 15:49 day of the crash) an emergency warning is place for the Adaminaby Complex bushfire burning to the north and north-west of Adaminaby.
- RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was strong wind, as well as a lot of smoke and dust in the area.
- ABC Radio says wind gusts of around 100km/hr were experienced in the area of the crash.
- Several ADF assets were involved in the search – including helicopters, and a P-8A Poseidon.
- RAAF C-130 experts seconded to the crash investigation.
- The C-130 Hercules was leased from USA-based Coulson Aviation.
- Coulson Aviation confirmed the aircraft lost was registered N134CG.
- All Coulson aircraft were grounded while investigations ramped up – and out of respect to the other crews who have lost their colleagues.
- ADF was tasked to investigate the quality of aviation fuel used by the Hercules (as a preliminary investigative measure)
- 70 firefighting aircraft were employed in the firefight on the day of the crash.