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 and Sikorsky S-70 Blackhawk.  Operated by highly experienced pilots from state of the art headquarters in Mangalore, this fleet delivers a powerful and reliable helicopter firefighting and emergency response capability.

Kestrel also provides specialised helicopter solutions to the Department of Defence and to the mining sector, as well as other clients in remote and inaccessible areas. Our advanced fleet and highly experienced crews enable all weather flexibility and the ability to operate at night with night vision technology.

Kestrel’s training approvals range from licence training to advanced type rating and operational rating and endorsement training.


Focus on safety, service & professionalism

Kestrel’s primary aim is to provide mission capable, cost effective helicopter 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, under the capable supervision of Chief Engineer Josh Cronin 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 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. Separate crew quarters were added 2013 and more recently 2 new hangars have been added to house the growing fleet.

In 2013, Kestrel announced the establishment  of a five-year exclusive cooperative agreement with American company Erickson Incorporated, to operate the powerful and versatile Erickson S-64 Aircrane in Australia. This has since been extended with the successful contracts for 6 Aircranes in 2019 for a further 5 years.

In response to a request from the NAFC and the Victorian Government, in late 2016, Kestrel commenced development of a night firebombing capability. In conjunction with EMV and other industry contributors, Kestrel created Australian history in March 2018 by providing the first contracted night aerial firefighting service. Since that time, Kestrel has continued to advance the Australian night fire capability, through the use of early response initial attack and pioneering hover fill operations which is considered an international first. During this period, Kestrel also secured the first of its support service contracts to the Department of Defence.

In 2019, Kestrel entered a partnership with Firehawk Helicopters Inc. to operate the S-70 Blackhawk in Australia. The first Blackhawk commenced contract services in November 2019, with a second aircraft providing a significant contribution to communities affected by the devastating 2019/2020 bushfire crisis.

Serving major corporate and government organisations

Kestrel has provided aviation services and support to many Australian Government and corporate organisations as well as off-shore and international clients. Clients include the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) and the various fire agencies in each of the states of Australia as well as the Department of Defence. Kestrel have provided advanced training and support to many of Australia’s helicopter companies and operated Australia wide as well as overseas in PNG, Vietnam, South Korea, New Caledonia and the Antarctic.