Kestrel has a proud history of operating in this vast, remote, and rugged country. Named after the hawk of the same name, which is unique in its ability to both hover and fly, we take to Australia's never-ending skies with a passion for delivering exemplary service.
Having begun as a specialist training and charter organisation in 1985, we now operate one of Australia's largest fleets of specialist multi-role helicopters supported by a professional team of pilots, engineers and support personnel.
Ray is one of Australia's most experienced helicopter pilots and instructors and has been a key contributor to the development of helicopter safety and training policies and regulations.
His aviation career commenced in 1975 when he joined the Department of Civil Aviation, working his way through the ranks to achieve a Diploma in Air Traffic Services, whilst at the same time pursuing his commercial pilot's licence for both aeroplanes and helicopters.
In the mid 1980's, Ray identified a void in the Australian market for a helicopter training school. Hence, he founded Kestrel.
Before long, Ray saw many other opportunities and has led the business through significant growth and adaptation to its current position as a recognised leader in the Australian helicopter industry.
Ray has focused on building Kestrel into a innovation leader, consistently looking to improve on its technologies and service delivery, with other organisations continually looking to Kestrel for leadership in delivering safe and efficient operations.
Having amassed over 10,000 hours of aeronautical experience, and being recognised as one of the most experienced helicopter instructors in Australia, Ray regularly provides input and expertise to government committees focused on improving the safety of helicopter operations in the country.
In 2018, Ray was elected to be the President of the Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA), representing its interest both domestically and internationally; and was awarded the Royal Aeronautical Society's Col Pay Award for a Lifetime of Service to General Aviation.
Kestrel Aviation is founded by Ray Cronin as a specialist helicopter training school.
Becomes the first Australia helicopter company to provide large scale training for overseas students.
Commences aerial firefighting services for the Victorian fire agency.
Becomes the first private Australian company to take over the operations of a public airport, resulting in the movement of operations to Mangalore in Central Victoria.
Imports and gains certification for the Agusta A109 helicopter, providing Australia's first civilian multi-engine IFR charter helicopter service.
Kestrel is awarded its first national contract for aerial firefighting services.
Purchased an outback property which became the centre of an exposition by the ABC's Landline program, showcasing our low level flying training programme.
Purchases a BK117 multi-engine helicopter and in partnership with US-based Simplex, obtains approval for the first Simplex belly tank.
Kestrel purchases the first civilian helicopter simulator in Australia and becomes the first organisation to offer it as part of its training programs. Is awarded its first aerial firefighting contract for a multi-engine helicopter fitted with a belly tank.
Provides consultancy services to the resource sector which leads to a the development of industry aviation standards.
Provides contracted Australian registered Bell 212 to the Canadian Fire Service. This presented the first-of-its type approval by Transport Canada.
Kestrel purchases and builds the Mangalore facility, including hangarage, workshops, offices, simulator and training areas, crew accommodation and dedicated operations centre.
Commenced production of the innovative Conair 85-KE tank delivery system for the Bell Medium fleet.
Established ongoing relationship with Erickson Inc. to operate the iconic S-64 Air Crane® helicopter in Australia in support of aerial firefighting contracts.
Becomes the first Australian owned company to obtain CASA approval for 'initial attack' operations at night using night vision goggles.
Is recognised internationally with wins in the International Aerial Firefighting and Night Vision Awards. Expansion of the Mangalore facility with additional hangarage and facilities. Awarded the first Australian aerial firefighting contracts for Black Hawk type helicopters, and night firebombing.
Kestrel establishes a joint venture with US-based Firehawk Helicopters Inc. to own and operate a fleet of Black Hawk helicopters. Becomes the Supplementary Type Certificate (STC) holder for the Conair 85/92 tank systems.
Purchases its first AS332 Super Puma aircraft, moving into Australian based Type-1 helicopters in response to the Bushfire Royal Commission. Wins the Excellence in Innovation Award at the Australia Aviation/Aerospace Awards for its night firefighting program. Commences Mission Helicopters operation in Far North Queensland.