Volga-Dnepr Airlines Helps Fight Aussie Bush Fires


London, 6 January, 2002 A Volga-Dnepr Airlines Antonov An-124-100 freighter is on a mercy dash to Australia as part of the effort to fight the bushfires raging around Sydney. The aircraft is carrying two American Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopters, each capable of dropping 9,000lt of water and fire retardent.

The helicopters are owned by Erickson Air-crane, based in Oregon, USA and will join a third S-64 nicknamed "Elvis" which is already fighting fires raging through New South Wales. Volga-Dnepr Airlines' Flight Volga 990 departed from Medford, Oregon at 14.05UTC on 5 January and has refuelled in Honolulu, Hawaii departing from there at 11.25UTC 6 January. Estimated time of arrival at Sydney is 22.30UTC ) 6 January.(09.30 AEDT 7 January).

The two S-64s, nicknamed "The Incredible Hulk" and "Georgia Peach" will be readied for flight by their groundcrew also travelling in the An-124. Due to the An-124's massive size, the helicopters do not have to be disassembled but just have their main- rotor blades folded back, so they should be in operation very quickly after arriving.

The An-124-100 is the world's largest cargo aircraft with a maximum payload of 125 tons and a 1,100m? volume fuselage. Rigs developed by Volga-Dnepr's specialists have made possible the carriage by air of outsized and superheavy cargoes that previously could be only shipped by sea. These cargoes include heavy engines and generators, oil and gas pumping units, reactors and satellites, aircraft and helicopters, motor boats and yachts and heavy construction plant. Among Volga-Dnepr's clients are such brandnames as General Electric, Lockheed-Martin, Hughes, British Petroleum, Bombardier Aerospace as well as governments and prominent international organisations.

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