For the 2013/14 fire season, McDermott Aviation won the contract to supply helicopters as Helitak (Helicopter Air Attack) aircraft, using Bell 214B helicopters, which are significantly more powerful and each carries three times more water than the Squirrels that they replaced. A Sikorsky S-64E Aircrane will be used as the heavy Helitak, but no S-61s are to be leased, as the Bell 214B helicopters carry an equivalent load.
The Scouts are all owned and managed by DPaW, which holds an Air Operators Certificate (AOC). The Air Tractors and all of the air attack platforms (except VH-YUQ) are also managed by DPaW.
Squirrel VH-YUQ, together with all of the Helitaks and Air Intelligence, are managed by DFES.
Air Attack call signs are fire agency designations for air attack supervisor platforms, and the call signs remain unchanged regardless of whether the actual airframe is changed. DPaW frequently rotate their Scout fleet around the various bases, so their Air Attack callsigns change, but their SPOTTER callsigns remain unchanged.
Air Attack 1 / FIREBIRD 620 / VH-EGU Eurocopter AS350B2 Squirrel Soloy SD2 – Helicopter Logistics – Based at Jandakot. NOTE: Sometimes VH-JTQ is used as Air Attack 1.
Air Attack 2 – Scout (rotated). Based at Bunbury.
Air Attack 3 – Scout (rotated). Based at Manjimup.
Air Attack 4 – Scout (rotated). Based at Albany.
Air Attack 5 / FIREBIRD 623 / VH-YUQ Eurocopter AS355F1 Twin Squirrel – McDermott Aviation – Based at Jandakot.
Fixed-wing aircraft used primarily for air attack supervision.
BIRDDOG 622 / VH-AQL
SPOTTER: American Champion 8GCBC Scout (Department of Parks and Wildlife – DPaW)
The Department of Parks and Wildlife uses a fleet of American Champion 8GCBC Scout aircraft as fire spotter aircraft for forest patrols in the south-west of WA. They are based at Jandakot, Bunbury, Dwellingup and Manjimup, and fly across areas set each day according to the forecast fire weather conditions. The aircraft fly more hours during the hotter months (around 3,500 hours) due to the increased fire risk. They also supervise waterbombing operations in the south-west, relaying information to fire controllers regarding the fire’s behaviour to assist in firefighting and ensuring the safety of fire crews.
Each aircraft uses the callsign “SPOTTER” followed by their individual number, e.g. VH-DXM is “SPOTTER 643″.
BOMBER: Air Tractor AT-802 & AT-602 (Dunn Aviation)
Dunn Aviation Australia provides fixed-wing fire bombing aircraft for the WA Government – the Air Tractor AT-802 and AT-602 for water and fire retardant dropping. Its aircraft are also contracted out to other states to perform firebombing and agricultural duties.
Based at Jandakot, Bunbury, Manjimup, Albany.
BOMBER 601 / VH-DUQ AT802 – Based at Albany
BOMBER 602 / VH-NIY AT602 “Forever Young” – Based at Jandakot
BOMBER 603 / VH-NIN AT802A
BOMBER 604 / VH-DUN AT802A “Ian Leslie” – Based at Jandakot BOMBER 605 / VH-NIZ AT602 “Rock n Roll”
BOMBER 606 / VH-NIA AT802A – to be sold in NSW
BOMBER 607 / VH-DUJ AT802 – Based at Albany
BOMBER 608 / VH-DUA AT802 “Magic” – Based at Jandakot BOMBER 609 / VH-DUW AT802A
BOMBER 610 / VH-JID AT802 “Chop”
BOMBER 611 / VH-NIP AT802A
BOMBER 612 / VH-NID AT802A “The Boss” – Based at Jandakot
Eurocopter AS350B2 Squirrel Soloy SD2 & AS350BA Squirrel & Bell 206B JetRanger III (Helicopter Logistics)
The Air Attack FIREBIRDS coordinate aerial firefighting operations, and can usually be seen circling high above firefighting aircraft. The Air Intelligience FIREBIRD is an fire information resource for incident managers on the ground.
FIREBIRD 620 / VH-EGU Eurocopter AS350B2 Squirrel Soloy SD2 – Helicopter Logistics – Based at Jandakot – Also uses callsign ‘Air Attack 1’ FIREBIRD 621 / VH-KSV Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II – Heliwork WA – Based at Jandakot FIREBIRD 622 / VH-JTQ Eurocopter AS350BA Squirrel – Helicopter Logistics – Based at Jandakot – Sometimes uses callsign ‘Air Attack 1’ , when VH-EGU is unavailable FIREBIRD 623 / VH-YUQ Eurocopter AS355F1 Twin Squirrel – McDermott Aviation – Based at Jandakot – Also uses callsign ‘Air Attack 5’ FIREBIRD 624 / VH-JRI Bell 206B JetRanger III – – Helicopter Logistics – Based at Jandakot FIREBIRD 625 / VH-XRG Eurocopter Bo-105LS-A3 – Heliwest – Based at Jandakot (Air Intel) – Fitted with Wescam MX-15i high definition FLIR turret, laser mapper and microwave transmitter.
HELITAC: Bell 214 (McDermott Aviation, QLD, Australia) & Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane (Erickson Air-Crane, USA)
Small, medium and heavy fire fighting helicopters are operated for the Department of Fire and Emergency Services for the fire season (October – April).
Four Bell 214 helicopters are based at Jandakot and two Bell 214’s are based at Busselton. The S-64E Skycrane is based at Serpentine Airfield, south of Perth.
HELITAK 671 / N1073W Bell 214B – Based at Jandakot HELITAK 672 / N49732 Bell 214B1 – Based at Jandakot
HELITAK 673 / N234PH Bell 214B1 – Based at Jandakot
HELITAK 674 / P2-MLJ Bell 214B – Based at Jandakot
HELITAK 676 / P2-MSA Bell 214B – Based at Busselton
HELITAK 677 / C-FXNI Bell 214B1 – Based at Busselton
HELITAK 741 / N243AC Sikorsky S-64E “Marty” – Based at Serpentine