For over 20 years, Kestrel has been working with internationally based aerial firefighting leaders to provide high volume helicopters in Australia, as well as other additional aircraft to complement our own domestically owned and operated fleet.
Since 2013, we have successfully partnered with Erickson to operate the iconic S-64 Air Crane® helicopter in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, supporting aerial firefighting and specialist heavy-lift projects that utilise the legendary capacity of these unique aircraft.
This legendary aircraft has a proud history of operation in Australia and has become the recognisable feature of many fire agencies' fire response, thanks in part to the folklore that surrounded "Elvis" (N179AC) and its lauded role in helping save almost 300 homes in Sydney during the 2001/2002 fire season, the same year it played a significant part in saving the lives of 14 firefighters in the Burragorang Valley.
With the conversion of ex-military Black Hawk helicopters providing an insight into the future of aerial fire missions, we have established a joint venture with Brainerd Helicopters, the parent company of Firehawk Helicopters and the first civilian company approved to operate these impressive machines, to own and operate these battel proven aircraft in Australia and the United States.
Kestrel, in partnership with Firehawk, was the first company in Australia to obtain a contract for the use of the Black Hawk in Australia during the infamous Black Summer fires of 2019/2020. Since then, the development and certification of the Hawk Tank now squarely puts the Black Hawk in a performance category of its own, thanks to its impressive speed and payload capability.