Helicopters traditionally used in aerial firefighting now offer opportunities for heavy lift users, including those working in the HVAC&R industry, says local aviation operator, Kestrel Aviation.
With fire seasons between the northern and southern hemispheres now starting to merge, Kestrel is moving into domestically based larger capacity aircraft to provide the services which have traditionally been provided by an internationally owned transient fleet of assets.
“Not only does this bolster the local aerial firefighting fleet, but it also represents opportunities for local heavy-lift users, like the HVAC industry, to utilise larger capacity helicopters year round,” says General Manager of Kestral, Justin Charlesworth.
Kestrel Aviation is an Australian company that provides specialist aviation services to corporate and government organisations across Australia and overseas. The services cover heavy lifting of commercial and industrial equipment, including for retrofitting projects and placement of heavy kits in buildings.
“Helicopters are a proven asset in the aerial firefighting environment due to their unique ability to draw on water sources close to the fire, rather than returning to airports like fixed wing aircraft do,” says Charlesworth.
“They also provide a range of other valuable services to the construction, mining, offshore and specialist project industries; this is mainly due to their aerial lifting capability. From remote locations, to busy cities, helicopters have proven themselves to lift objects where traditional ground-based cranes are unable to.”
Kestrel says its introduction of the Firehawk 1 provides local heavy-lift users a cost-effective solution and alternative to cranes.
“The Firehawk 1 provides the ability to lift HVAC units and systems which have previously been reliant on ground based crane units,” says Charlesworth.
“With the aircraft now based in Australia, it also means that heavy-lift helicopters are becoming more affordable to users, thanks to the savings made on mobilisation from overseas, which in some cases adds several hundred thousand dollars to project estimates.”
The Firehawk helicopter is the first of a fleet of lift-capable (over 3.6t) Sikorsky UH-60 owned by Kestrel in partnership with Firehawk Helicopters.
Headquartered at Mangalore in central Victoria, Kestrel operates Australia’s largest privately owned fleet of Bell 212 and 412 helicopters.