About Kestrel

Helicopter emergency response, remote access transport and advanced pilot training are complex tasks requiring specialist skills and equipment. Kestrel is a leading force in Australia in these fields.

Kestrel provides emergency response and firefighting support with its fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, including the versatile heavy-lift Erickson Aircrane. Operated by highly experienced pilots from state of the art headquarters in Mangalore, this fleet delivers powerful and reliable helicopter firefighting and emergency response capability.

Kestrel also provides specialised transport solutions to mining companies and other clients in remote and inaccessible areas.

Other Kestrel services include the supply of aircraft, pilots, engineering support, operational backup, training, contract management, safety audits and aviation project management.

Focus on safety, service & professionalism

Kestrel’s primary aim is to provide mission capable, cost effective helicopter and aeroplane services for its corporate and government clients.

Kestrel’s core values underpin its industry leading reputation and success:


Safety is the first priority in all aspects of our operations. Risk mitigation and threat and error management are the first elements of any risk assessment for tasks undertaken by Kestrel.

Customer Service

We are attentive to the needs of our customers and commit to provide them with the highest levels of service at all times.


Kestrel prides itself on a best practice approach in the provision of its services and is respected for its high level of professionalism in the aviation industry.

Kestrel conducts both routine and heavy maintenance of its aircraft fleet from its fully equipped hanger facility at Mangalore Airport, under the capable supervision of Chief Engineer Bruce Connors and Head of Aircraft Airworthiness Maintenance Control, Shirley Woods.

Operating since 1985

Kestrel Aviation was established in 1985 by Captain Ray Cronin. Observing the lack of dedicated helicopter flying schools in Australia, Ray identified the need for a specialist helicopter training school and Kestrel was established at Moorabbin Airport.

Kestrel soon outgrew Moorabbin Airport and moved all facilities and staff to Mangalore Airport in 1989. This led to further growth and development with the addition of contracted international basic and advanced helicopter training programs, and the construction of a 30-bed accommodation complex in the early nineties.

With the introduction of multi engine helicopters to support its advanced training programs, Kestrel soon expanded to other services and in particular has become a major contractor to the State of Victoria for fire suppression.

In 2011 Kestrel purchased land at the entrance to Mangalore Airport for a new headquarters. The new 2000 square metre facility includes a large hanger area, workshops, offices, simulator centre and a dedicated Operations Centre employing the latest in fleet monitoring and operational technology.

In 2013 Kestrel announced a five-year exclusive cooperative agreement with American company Erickson Incorporated, to operate the powerful and versatile Erickson S-64 Aircrane in Australia. The Erickson Aircranes combine with Kestrel’s local operation and existing fleet of rotary and fixed wing aircraft to provide unparalleled firefighting capability in Australia.

Serving major corporate and government organisations

Kestrel has provided aviation services and support to many Australian government and corporate organisations including:

National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) Australia

  • Helicopter high-volume water-bombing services in Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, including 6 Erickson Aircranes and Light Air Attack helicopters

Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (formerly DEPI)

  • Helicopter aerial fire suppression support contracts with BK117 & B212/412 using Conair and Simplex belly tanks or Bambi buckets (Over 20 years)
  • Helicopter air attack for firefighting operations – B206/B206L

Bristow Helicopters

  • Co-pilot instrument ratings (initial issue)
  • Command multi-engine upgrade assessment courses, including advanced LOFT exercises
  • ILS renewals
  • NVFR training

CHC Helicopters

  • Co-pilot instrument ratings (initial issue)
  • NVFR training
  • Instructor rating training

The Australian Army

  • Command Instrument LOFT and refresher courses

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

  • Aircraft type endorsement training
  • Command multi-engine instrument ratings (initial issue and renewal)
  • Industry consultation
  • Flight standards and training consultation

BHP Billiton

  • Aviation safety audit services, domestic and international oil spill response, aviation management services
  • Pipeline survey

Clough Engineering

  • Offshore helicopter support ‘Bass Strait’

Hart Aviation (Aviation Safety Consultants)

  • General Manager and administration services

Western Mining Resources

  • Aviation safety standards, audits & consultation

Aurora Expeditions

  • Provision of multiple helicopter services in Antarctica

QBE Insurance

  • Aviation safety assessments and field audits
  • Safety presentations

Gulf Helicopters

  • Pilot training, abinitio to command multi-engine instrument rating

Royal Oman Police

  • Pilot training abinitio to command multi-engine instrument rating

Rural Fire Service of NSW

  • Provision of multi-engine helicopter aerial firefighting services

Country Fire Authority of South Australia

  • Provision of multi-engine helicopter aerial firefighting services

Queensland Emergency Management

  • Provision of multi-engine helicopter rescue services

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

  • Search and rescue services
  • First on location on three significant crash sites

Korea Forest Service Aviation Centre 

  • Provide emergency procedure training