Kestrel adds to fleet

October 2017

Today Kestrel’s new 412HP VH-XCN arrived at Mangalore after a ferry from its previous owner, Lifeflight at Archerfield.

XCN will commence a role equipment fit out then join the fleet of seven medium helicopters equipped with the industry leading Conair 85-KE firefighting belly tank attack systems.

With the fire season already knocking on the door XCN will no doubt earn its stripes in its new role.

Ferried by Captain David Sewell and Callum Cronin

Pre Fire Season Pilot training

October 2016

2016 Pre Fire Season Pilot training has been completed for this year. All Kestrel pilots for both the medium and light helicopters undergo a comprehensive week long course culminating in approval to conduct firefighting operations for the forthcoming season.

The Classroom covers not only firefighting techniques and safety considerations, but among other things human factors, fatigue management, wire avoidance, low visibility recovery techniques and Fire Agency expectations.

The flying aspect covers the Company flight reviews, Kestrel designed standard firebombing profiles and techniques, precision – close crew support water bombing, firebombing target, standard water pickups and emergency dump procedures.

These training programs are to ensure that the Kestrel crews are armed with the appropriate skills to approach the challenging low level environment of accurate wild fire firebombing.



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Aerial Firefighting Asia Pacific Conference

September 2016

Kestrel attended the Aerial Firefighting conference held in Adelaide on 5th and 6th of September 2016.  Seen here at the Channel nine sponsored welcome function is Emergency Management Victoria Commissioner Mr Craig Laspley and Managing Director-Kestrel Ray Cronin.  The event covered two days with interesting innovation in aerial firefighting and a great opportunity to network with likeminded operators from around the globe.


Kestrel awarded fire contracts in Victoria

October 2015

Kestrel Aviation has been awarded seven more National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) contracts for Bell type 2 helicopters for service for the Victorian Government fire contracts.  These seven services will be Helitack 330, Helitack 331, Helitack 332, Helitack 333, Helitack 337 (Bell 212s) and Helitack 334 and Helitack 346 two Bell 412s, this adds to the current fleet of six Air Cranes and three longrangers on Contract to NAFC.

“Kestrel is committed to serving the community of Victoria as part of the latest fleet acquisition by NAFC for the Victorian Government” says Ray Cronin (Managing Director) “Kestrel have spent many years building the company’s capacity and facilities to the level that they are at today and are confident in our ability to support the community when needed” .

Kestrel with their 16 contracted services providing Aerial fire fighting capacity to four States cover the range from the very large Air Crane capacity helicopters, the medium capacity helicopters and three of the light Air Attack helicopter platforms and are one of the largest operators in this field of aviation in Australia.

This year Victoria is affected by an El Nino weather pattern and will experience drier and warmer than average conditions, no doubt the large fleet of helicopters and aircraft engaged by Victoria will go a long way to assisting with the potential suppression of wild fire activity.

AFAC Conference- Adelaide SA

September 2015

Kestrel once again participated in the AFAC conference alongside Erickson Incorporated, which was this year held in Adelaide. The annual conference is considered to be Australasia’s largest and most important emergency services and public safety conference and trade exhibition and is a good opportunity to meet with delegates and visitors from emergency and security services and all levels of government and non-government organisations from Australia and all over the world.

This year the booth was staffed by Ray and Eleanor Cronin as well as Pat Pilolla and Mike Rotonda who flew over from the United States to represent Erickson for the 3 day event.


Helicopter Winch training in Vietnam

July 2015

Kestrel Aviation was recently asked to provide specialised Helicopter Winch training to several candidates from the Southern Vietnam Helicopter Company at their home base in Vung Tau City, Vietnam.

Over the course of the training Candidates had class room theory followed by flight instruction based around their aircrafts, AS332, EC225 and the Mi172 Helicopters.

All Candidates successfully completed the training and were awarded their Certificate of Competency.

Two senior flight engineers carried out further advanced training to obtain their winch instructors approval to assist the company to maintain internal crew recency training.

The level of attention and commitment from the Candidates was impressive, together with the friendly and professional support from all concerned made for a positive outcome for everyone.


Ray Cronin’s appointment to the Flight Crew Licensing Sub-committee

June 2015

Ray Cronin has been appointed to the FCL Sub-committee as the AHIA industry representative, this appointment is seen as an important step in the consultative process with the regulator in relation to the implementation and amendments of regulatory procedures.
With the weight of the impact of Part 61 on or industry engagement with CASA at a high level will assist with providing workable solutions where unintended consequences of the implementation are identified and where fine tuning of the Manual of Standards is required.
The rate of regulatory change is proving difficult to keep up with however CASA management are careful to minimise disruption to industry, therefore by engaging senior industry involvement on such committees is able to ensure that relevant highly experienced opinion is accessed.
Many issues are currently on the table for the FCL Sub-committee meaning a high workload for sometime into the future.
“It is critical to the betterment of the helicopter industry that the AHIA and its members are represented at the drafting, implementation and post implementation levels of any regulatory changes. Our involvement on the FCL Sub-committee and other forums will ensure that this occurs”, Ray Cronin says.

AFAC Conference – Wellington NZ

September 2014

The AFAC conference was held in Wellington NZ this year and had over 1000 delegates attend.

Erickson and Kestrel as partners in heavy aerial fire suppression in Australia ran a booth to present our capabilities at the conference.

Representing Erickson were David Barnett (Chief Pilot Erickson), Kenny Chapman (Senior Pilot Erickson) and representing Kestrel were Ray Cronin (Managing Director) and Prue Hateley (Operations and Logistics Officer).

Our booth created a lot of interest with a constant flow of visitors.

We look forward to supporting the 2015 AFAC in Adelaide.


Kestrel’s new complex completed.

August 2014

Kestrel’s state of the art office and hanger facility is now fully functional.  The facility features offices, stores, specialist maintenance and overhaul areas, radio and electrical repair shop and a helicopter simulator room.  This has now consolidated Kestrel’s capable staff and resources under the one roof allowing for an efficient and pleasant working environment. The temporary offices have been reverted back to a 7 bedroom accommodation facility – providing quality accommodation to crew on the base.


Erickson aircranes in Australia and ready for duty!

15 October 2013

Kestrel is off to a flying start with the arrival in Australia last week of the first two aircranes for the season- Gypsy Lady and Ichabod- in the back of a Russian Antonov cargo aircraft.

In response to the unexpectedly early declaration of the NSW fire season, Erickson went to extraordinary efforts, spending close to $1m to hire the aircraft to bring the aircranes from Greece, to ensure adequate firefighting resources.

Not only has the season started earlier but predictions are for continuing warm and dry conditions. The Erickson aircranes’ high volume water bombing capacity and advanced delivery systems will significantly enhance the efforts of on-ground firefighters.

Kestrel has been awarded a contract for up to five years by the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) to provide aerial firefighting services using the aircranes in Victoria, NSW (two aircranes each), South Australia and Western Australia (one aircrane each). The six Erickson aircranes that will service this contract are identical E-model aircraft. The E-model is faster so can turn over loads more frequently than the higher volume F-model. Having six identical aircraft also means there will be scale and service benefits including commonality of spare parts.

Under the five year agreement, Erickson will provide the aircranes, pilots, spare parts and maintenance services, while Kestrel will provide on-ground support and co-ordination from its operations base in Central Victoria, liaison with the government and firefighting services, and in-air servicing from its own helicopter fleet.