A Boeing 737 Large Aerial Tanker (LAT) has been used for fire fighting purposes for the first time.
The modified 737, named Gaia, was used in Australia by the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service (RFS) to fight a bush fire north of Sydney.
Gaia is one of three fixed wing aircraft that the RFS purchased with $26.3 million from the NSW government. It is capable of dropping more than 15000 litres of water and retardant for laying containment lines and dropping longer loads than some other aircraft. The 737 can also carry up to 63 passengers.
The 737 Large Air Tanker ‘Gaia’ has been in action in the Hunter this afternoon – the first time this kind of plane has been used to fight a fire anywhere in the world. It’s provided valuable support to firefighters on the ground. #NSWRFS #nswfires #avgeek pic.twitter.com/qHnbcddFpe
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 22, 2018
This special mission aircraft was converted by the Canadian company Coulson Aviation.
RFS media spokesperson Chris Garlick told media that the RFS was “stoked” with how Gaia performed. It has also thanked the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bases Richmond and Williamtown for helping in the firefighting efforts. The 737 is based at RAAF Richmond, northwest of Sydney.