Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : March 2011 Contents 77
MARCH 2011 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
noted when he spoke about the 580's
"It's actually not too bad, I would say it's
not heavy on maintenance.
"We used to have lots of older style air-
planes with reciprocating [radial] engines
... and you'd have to work a lot more on the
"Now that our work focus has changed
more towards the avionics style stu , you
have more electrical problems than you
"We have a lot of spare parts, if major
things went wrong, we have them in Bal-
larat, but as for the day-to-day operations,
all that stu , we have it contained here."
Ease of maintenance doesn't necessar-
ily translate into compatibility, as Devalk
knows all to well from working on the
aircraft in Australia.
"We had to carry fuel and carry oxygen
systems, and our bottles are di erent than
the bottles in Australia, so then you have
to come up with an adapter to recharge
our bottles, we got all that done now, but
... certain things sometimes give you a bit
of a headache when you go to a di erent
Nor does the re retardant tank worry
Devalk, as it only requires an inspection
every 100 hours during operations.
"I'm not saying it's never given us any
trouble, but generally, it's very reliable."
While working in an Australian environ-
ment has been a new experience for both
Graham and Devalk, there are similarities
between operating 580s in Victoria and
back home in Canada.
"Our primary area of operation is west-
ern Canada, northern Canada and Alaska,"
"On average they [Convair 580s] y
about 200 to 250 hours per re season.
ey would ... literally have fought hun-
dreds and hundreds and hundreds of res, I
couldn't guess how many res."
"In 2003, we had a really bad re season
where there was a lot of homes burned and
hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest
burned up in British Columbia and Alberta
where we work."
"So they've operated in virtually every
kind of terrain that you could imagine.
British Columbia's very mountainous, the
entire province has got some fairly signi -
" ere's not a lot of huge, high moun-
tains here in Australia but there are very
mountainous areas, and we've certainly
done lots of work in mountainous areas
with these airplanes, a lot."
Devalk agreed, and noted that despite
the Australian heat, there are no obstacles
to operating the 580 out of Avalon.
" ere's ... nothing extra here as there
would be at home.
"I mean it can get hotter here, but not
a whole lot, like some parts in the interior
of BC [British Columbia] you get over
40 degrees as well, so it's really the same
But where there are similarities in ght-
ing res in Australia, one big "di erence"
remains the landscape. Graham highlighted
the open Victorian bushland with its wide,
spread apart gum trees, as opposed to the
more "cavernous forests" found in Brit-
ish Columbia and elsewhere in North
Aside from the obvious challenges of
operating in a new environment, Australian
hospitality still shines through when you
ask either Devalk or Graham about their
experience working with Aussies.
"We've been treated like kings around
this place, top guns, yeah," Graham
" ere is a lot of similarity between
what we do at home and what the folks in
Australia do, it's very similar stu . So it's
not that terribly tough to adapt, and even
the rules of the air here, you know, ying
toward Melbourne or whatever ... airspace
control and that sort of thing, it's all very
similar to what it is in Canada.
"It's all been fantastic, they have treated
us very well. e SAU, DSE, CFA, they're
all very keen, they've been fantastic helping
us to get settled in, getting organised and
getting to our job."
At the end of their trial in Victoria, Co-
nair will load up their CV580s and begin
the long journey home to Abbotsford, Brit-
ish Columbia, with the crew hoping that in
some way they've proved the potential their
aircraft have to o er.
First though, it will be a stop in Ballarat
with Field Air. A fuel ferry system will
be reinstalled on both 580s, which about
doubles the aircraft's fuel capacity, ready for
a smooth trip home, with a few stopovers
along the way.
So whether they're ying into the midst
of a raging bush re, or waiting patiently
at Avalon for that fateful call, Conair,
Dennis Graham and his CV580 crews
remain ready and willing to lend a hand,
even when what has so far been a quiet re
season leads the veteran pilot to make one
nal tongue-in-cheek remark.
" e res are scared of us," he joked.
With 8000 litre tank ready to drop a full
load of retardant, you can see why.
BIRD DOG The Turbo Commander coordinates the planned course of attack for the Convairs. (Michael Serenc)
REPORTING FOR DUTY Convair 42 C-GYXC at Ballarat Airport soon after arriving in Australia. (Ryan
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