Firefighting Helicopters 2013/14: HNZ Australia DFES contract not renewed; Stoneville helipad proposed as S-64 Skycrane base

26 August 2013 © David Eyre

HNZ Australia loses DFES firefighting contract

N49732 Bell 214B-1 of McDermott Aviation
N49732 Bell 214B-1 of McDermott Aviation
Photo: © McDermott Aviation
Three Eurocopter AS350B3 Squirrels of HNZ Australia, on contract to Department of Fire and Emergency Services at Perth Airport - Sun 30 Dec 2012.
Three Eurocopter AS350B3 Squirrels of HNZ Australia, on contract to Department of Fire and Emergency Services at Perth Airport – Sun 30 Dec 2012.
Taking off to fight a bush fire in Maida Vale at 14:50.
All are fitted with a Simplex Model 310-002 Fire Attack belly tank (1,100 Litres) and pump.
– VH-WCQ / 670 (cn 3195) (yellow)
– VH-WCX / 671 (cn 3491) (green)
– VH-WCD / 669 (cn 3266) (red)
Photo © Keith Anderson

HNZ Australia’s firefighting contract for the use of Eurocopter AS350B3 Squirrels has not been renewed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), so HNZ’s Squirrels will not be used during the 2013/14 bushfire season.

It is rumoured that Bell 214B helicopters of McDermott Aviation will be used instead of the Squirrels. The Bell 214B can be fitted with either a ‘Tsunami’ belly tank or a 3000-litre under-slung bucket, which is a similar load to that provided by the two leased Sikorsky S-61s, which each carried 3785 litres in a belly tank.

McDermott Aviation is based at Cooroy (Queensland), with remote bases at Chinchilla and Maroochydore in Queensland, Bankstown in New South Wales, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia. The company claims to be the largest privately owned and operated helicopter company in Australia.

During the 2012/13 fire season, four Eurocopter AS350B2 Squirrels of HNZ Australia were used for firefighting, being modified with a Fire Attack under-fuselage water tank (1,100 Litres) and pump pack:

  • HELITAC 668 / VH-WCN – Blue colours
  • HELITAC 669 / VH-WCD – Red/Orange colours
  • HELITAC 670 / VH-WCQ – Yellow colours
  • HELITAC 671 / VH-WCX – Green colours

In addition, two Eurocopter AS350B2 Squirrels of HNZ Australia were used for aerial command and control, to coordinate firefighting operations:

  • FIREBIRD 610 / VH-WDI – Bunbury-based?
  • FIREBIRD 620 / VH-WCO – Perth Airport

DFES proposal to base Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane at Stoneville

N957AC / 738 Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane (MSN 64-065) of Erickson Air-Crane, named “Ichabod”, operated for Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) at Bertram - Sat 29 December 2012.
N957AC / 738 Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane (MSN 64-065) of Erickson Air-Crane, named “Ichabod”, operated for Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) at Bertram – Sat 29 December 2012.
On this 41°C day, a bushfire started at about 1.15pm near Bertram Primary School and moved quickly in a NE direction along Johnson Road, towards Thomas Road. Sections of Kwinana Freeway and Johnson Road were closed.
100 firefighters in 16 appliances on the ground and several aircraft fought the blaze.
Photo © Matt Hayes

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services is seeking approval from the Shire of Mundaring for a proposal to build a helipad at 900 Woodlands Road, Stoneville.

The helipad would be used as a base for the leased Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane of Erickson Helicopters during the bushfire season (November to April). The proposal includes a site hut, generator, portable ablution block, and water tank. The Skycrane will use a former bitumen carpark, but some trees will need to be removed from the site.

DFES wants to base the S-64 at Stoneville to improve fire response times, compared to its usual base at Jandakot Airport. With Jandakot being located close to the flightpath for Perth Airport’s runway 03/21, operations from Jandakot sometimes require flights to head westwards, off the coast, before heading back inland, and this delays fire response times.

DFES reported that the S-64 operation usage in the past has been as follows:

Fire season

Number of deployments

Flight hours

2012/13 20 42
2011/12 30 56

 

 

David Eyre

President, Aviation Association of WA Inc

4 thoughts on “Firefighting Helicopters 2013/14: HNZ Australia DFES contract not renewed; Stoneville helipad proposed as S-64 Skycrane base

  • March 26, 2014 at 4:47 pm
    Permalink

    Hello,

    My name is Jeremy, 19 years old and I live in the east of France. Firefighter and a enthusiast of helicopter, I am looking to make a CPL(H) license.

    As currently at school in Annecy for a year, I try, from January next year, to find a company to improve my English and to familiarize myself parallel to the field of helicopter. I’m already two hours of flight on Astar inSwitzerland. I found your company on the net and this one interested me.

    I would like to go to australia to learn english in a school and with a Visa, i can work approximatly 20h/week.
    I would like to know if it was possible to work with our company to clean or do other job just to be in touch with helicopter..

    In waiting your answer..
    Thank you

    Kinds Regards
    Jeremy P.

    Reply
    • March 27, 2014 at 6:02 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Jeremy,
      In Perth, you would need to contact a helicopter company like Heliwest, or Rotorvation Helicopters, or Helicopter Logistics.
      We wish you well and hope that someone will assist you.
      Kind Regards,
      David Eyre

      Reply

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