Australian Helicopter, Drone Firefighters to Convene at RotorTech 2024

In June the aerial firefighting experts for Australia’s helicopter and uncrewed aerial peak bodies will meet for a two-day catch up in one venue, conducting their associations’ headline conferences as part of the RotorTech 2024 Helicopter and Uncrewed Exposition on Australia’s Gold Coast.

They will have much to discuss. Several devastating fire seasons have prompted growth in both fleet size and the complexity and payload of helicopters available to fire authorities around the nation.

From Bell 214s and 412s, the fleet has grown of late to include contracted S-64 Erickson Skycranes, Blackhawks, Chinooks and even a Super Puma joining the available fleet.

Australia’s National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) now contracts around 150 aircraft, of which around 87 are helicopters, readily available for use by State and Territory emergency services and land management agencies across Australia. Another 150 or so aircraft are sometimes involved on ad hoc firefighting when needed.

Australian companies have adopted and adapted to develop their firefighting abilities, with two helicopter operators and the Victorian state government’s Emergency Management Victoria all winners in Night Vision Awards presented at past Airborne Public Safety Association conferences (APSCON).

In 2018 Kestrel Aviation became the first Australian owned company to obtain Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority approval for initial attack operations at night using night vision goggles.

Australian tank manufacturer Helitak, a RotorTech exhibitor, has also seen international success, securing US FAA STC approvals for its expandable fire suppression tank, and providing its FT4500 Black Hawk tank into the North American market through High Performance Helicopters in the 2020 US Fire Season.

Drones and remote piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) have also been part of Australian State and Territory firefighting efforts since the early 2020s, gaining prominence and finding new capabilities as public safety agencies gain experience.

Uncrewed systems are already surveying assets such as dams and roads after fire and flood, maintaining an infra-red lookout on hot spots and fires, helping ground commanders determine safe areas for firefighting crews and vehicles and even finding wildlife in need of rescue from fire-damaged areas.

In 2021 Fire Rescue Victoria created a specialised drone unit, with the state of New South Wales rolling out drones across its network in 2022 to support fire and rescue services in 25 regional areas.

RotorTech is the helicopter and uncrewed systems event for the region, providing both peak bodies with a conference and industry exhibition that by nature has much overlap.

Australian Helicopter Industry Association President Ray Cronin said ROTORTECH 2024 would provide a timely platform for discussion of issues affecting the industry.

“The Australian helicopter industry needs a forum to highlight both the challenges and successes in our industry,” he said. “Operators face issues such as regulation and recruitment, but as an industry we are also advancing and adopting new technologies and new ways of doing business. RotorTech is the industry’s own forum for sharing this information for the benefit of all.”

RotorTech 2024 will be held 4-6 June at the RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, Australia. For more information on RotorTech 2024, go to

AerialFire Staff
AerialFire Staff
AerialFire Magazine strives to provide you with breaking aerial firefighting industry news and information.

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