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Tenders

For answers to Questions regarding Invitation to Tender and Request for Proposals processes, please follow the links on the Tenders page.

 

 

Who is responsible for aerial firefighting in Australia?

The responsibility for suppression of wildfires (bushfires as they are known in Australia) rests with the Governments of each of the Australian States and Territories. Each State and Territory Government has one or more agencies that are responsible for bushfire prevention and suppression. Where it is safe, efficient and cost effective to do so, most States and Territories utilise aircraft to support their fire suppression and other fire management activities. Most firefighting aircraft are chartered from appropriately experienced and qualified commercial aircraft service providers. A small number of aircraft are owned and operated by Australian fire agencies. For more information on the individual agencies involved in fire in Australia visit the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council at www.afac.com.au. The State and Territory agencies involved in firefighting and land management recognise that improved performance, cost savings and other synergies may be obtained through cooperation and sharing of resources and support systems between States and Territories. This is especially so for expensive, highly specialised resources such as firefighting aircraft. That is where NAFC comes in – the aim is to facilitate resource sharing and cooperation between agencies across the country.

 

 

What are the aircraft used for in fighting bushfires?

Aircraft undertake a wide range of valuable support tasks, including:

·         Firebombing – the dropping of water, or foam or fire retardant slurries on, or in front of the fire, to reduce or halt the spread of the fire;

·         Rapid delivery of firefighters to remote areas by rappelling or winching;

·         Fire detection, reconnaissance and mapping (including with highly sophisticated infra-red sensors;

·         Command, communications and control;

·         Transportation of firefighters and equipment; and

·         Aerial ignition – dropping of approved incendiary devices to ignite backburns or prescribed fuel reduction burns.

 

 

What types of aircraft are used?

A wide range of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft are used to support fire operations. Aircraft are selected for individual tasks based on their suitability for the task and their cost effectiveness.

Larger helicopters are most often used for firebombing and crew transportations, whilst smaller helicopters are more often used for command and control, mapping and aerial ignition.

Fixed-wing aircraft that are used for firebombing tend to be of the larger agricultural-style, specially modified for firebombing. These aircraft are sometimes referred to as SEATs (Single-Engined Air Tankers). This type of aircraft particularly suits the conditions most often encountered in Australia where there are relatively few long paved runways, but plenty of agricultural airstrips. Larger fixed-wing aircraft have been used where appropriate and cost-effective. Light fixed-wing aircraft are also regularly used for fire detection, reconnaissance, command and control.

 

 

What aircraft are in the fleet?

The Table below sets out the aircraft fleet contracted through NAFC for 2013/2014. Keep in mind that there are also some other aircraft contracted directly to States and Territories. The fleet may also change at short notice.

 

 

Aircraft Type

Features

Contractor*

Nominated Operational Base

Fixed-wing Aircraft

Air Tractor AT802

 

Dunn Aviation

Albany, WA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Dunn Aviation

Albany, WA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Port Lincoln, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Port Lincoln, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Woodside, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Woodside, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Woodside, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Woodside, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Woodside, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Woodside, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Mount Gambier, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech First Response

Mount Gambier, SA

Cessna Caravan 208

AAS

Aerotech First Response

Woodside, SA

Cessna 182

Recce

Lincoln Air Charter

Port Lincoln, SA

Cessna 182

Recce

Aerotech First Response

Millicent, SA

Cessna 182

Recce

Aerotech First Response

Naracoorte, SA

Air Tractor AT802

 

Aerotech NT

Batchelor, NT

Air Tractor AT602

 

Aerotech NT

Batchelor, NT

Air Tractor AT802

 

AG Airwork

Casterton, Vic

 

AAS/Recce

tba

Ballarat, Vic

 

AAS/Recce

tba

Wangaratta, Vic

 

AAS/Recce

tba

Latrobe Valley, Vic

Air Tractor AT802

Floats

Pay’s Air Service

Grafton, NSW

Air Tractor AT802

 

Kennedy Air Ag

Gunnedah, NSW

Air Tractor AT802

 

Kennedy Air Ag

Wagga Wagga, NSW

Air Tractor AT802

 

Pay’s Air Service

Scone, NSW

Air Tractor AT802

 

Rebel Ag

Forbes, NSW

Air Tractor AT802

 

Pay’s Air Service

Goulburn, NSW

Air Tractor AT802

 

R & M Aircraft

Armidale, NSW

Air Tractor AT802

 

R & M Aircraft

Orange, NSW

Cessna 182

Recce

Curtis Aviation

Camden, NSW

Cessna Caravan 208

AAS

Pay’s Air Service

Scone, NSW

Rotary-wing Aircraft

Erickson S64E Aircrane

Fixed tank

Kestrel Aviation

Perth (Serpentine), WA

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Perth (Jandakot), WA

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Perth (Jandakot), WA

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Perth (Jandakot), WA

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Perth (Jandakot), WA

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Busselton, WA

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Busselton, WA

Eurocopter AS355

AAS/bucket

McDermott Aviation

Perth (Jandakot), WA

Erickson S.64E Aircrane

Fixed tank

Kestrel Aviation

Adelaide Hills (Brukunga), SA

Eurocopter AS350BA

AAS/bucket

Australian Helicopters

Woodside, SA

Eurocopter AS350BA

AAS/bucket

Australian Helicopters

Woodside, SA

Erickson S.64E Aircrane

Fixed tank

Kestrel Aviation

Essendon, Vic

Erickson S.64E Aircrane

Fixed tank

Kestrel Aviation

Ballarat, Vic

Sikorsky S61N

Fixed tank

Coulson Aviation Australia

Colac, Vic

Sikorsky S61N

Bucket

Coulson Aviation Australia

Mansfield, Vic

Bell 206L (Longranger)

AAS/bucket

Kestrel Aviation

Essendon, Vic

Bell 206L (Longranger)

AAS/bucket

Kestrel Aviation

Ballarat, Vic

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Hobart , Tas

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Hobart, Tas

Eurocopter AS350B3

Fixed tank

United Aero Helicopters

Hobart, Tas

Eurocopter AS350B3

Fixed tank

Heli-Serv

Launceston, Tas

Eurocopter AS350FX2

AAS/bucket

Heli-Serv

Launceston, Tas

Erickson S64E Aircrane

Fixed tank

Kestrel Aviation

Bankstown, NSW

Erickson S64E Aircrane

Fixed tank

Kestrel Aviation

Bankstown, NSW

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Bankstown, NSW

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Bankstown, NSW

Eurocopter AS365N2

Bucket/winch

McDermott Aviation

Taree NSW / Hume, ACT

Bell 412SP

Tank/winch

United Aero Helicopters

Camden, NSW

Bell 412SP

Tank/winch

United Aero Helicopters

Camden, NSW

Bell 412SP

Tank/winch

United Aero Helicopters

Hume, ACT

Eurocopter EC145

Bucket/winch

True North

Rosewood. NSW

Kawasaki BK117*

Bucket/winch

Trecked

Bankstown, NSW

Kawasaki BK117*

Bucket/winch

Trecked

Bankstown, NSW

Kawasaki BK117

Bucket/winch

United Aero Helicopters

Camden, NSW

Kawasaki BK117

Bucket/winch

United Aero Helicopters

Moruya, NSW

Eurocopter AS350B3

Bucket/winch

United Aero Helicopters

Camden, NSW

Eurocopter AS350BA

AAS/bucket

United Aero Helicopters

Hume, ACT

Bell 206L (Longranger)

Intell/FLIR

United Aero Helicopters

Camden, NSW

Bell 206L (Longranger)

AAS/bucket

Kestrel Aviation

Camden, NSW

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Archerfield, Qld

Bell 214B

Fixed tank

McDermott Aviation

Archerfield, Qld

Bell 204

Bucket

McDermott Aviation

Cooroy, Qld

Eurocopter AS355

AAS/bucket

McDermott Aviation

Archerfield, Qld

* trading or reference name      AAS = Air Attack Supervision

 

I’m an aircraft operator. How do I get involved?

Currently all aircraft services provided to NAFC are sourced through competitive public tender processes. Successful tenderers enter into a contact with NAFC. Keep an eye on the NAFC website for announcements of any call for tenders. Tenders are also publicly advertised in ‘The Australian’ newspaper. To be successful in a tender process your company will have to demonstrate suitable capability and experience, and the services you provide will need to meet very exacting specifications. You will need to operate under an Australian Air Operators Certificate. Operators that are not based in Australia may like to consider forming an alliance or partnership with an Australian-based aviation company.

 

Firefighting aircraft services are occasionally provided on a Call-When-Needed or CWN basis. Provided specified operator and aircraft standards are met, this system allows suitable operators to place their details on a CWN Register. At times of high activity, fire agencies may draw extra aircraft, if needed, from CWN registers. NAFC does not currently operate a CWN Register, although it is planned in the future. A number of State and Territory agencies do operate CWN registers, and it would be necessary for you to contact them directly for details.

 

For more information on Air Operators Certificates and other legislative requirements, the relevant authority is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia. Their contact details may be found at www.casa.gov.au.

 

 

I’m a pilot. How do I get a job in aerial firefighting?

NAFC does not employ pilots, and this is also the case with most Australian firefighting agencies. Pilots are employed by the commercial aircraft operators who supply aircraft services to NAFC or to State and Territory agencies under contract. You need to get in touch with an aircraft operator. Note that NAFC and State and Territory aerial firefighting contracts and CWN arrangements all carry minimum experience and recent experience requirements for pilots involved in aerial firefighting.

 

 

What is dropped from aircraft to fight bushfires?

It could be water, Class A foam, a gel or retardant. The Air Attack Supervisor for a bushfire incident will assess the situation and decide what will be the most effective approach for that particular situation. Water is only used when there can be a very quick turnaround – this is normally the province of helicopters that can re-fill themselves while hovering over a nearby water source. Water is applied directly to the fire. Class A foam, or bushfire fighting foam, is somewhat akin to a detergent. It is added to the load of water in a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft. As the load leaves the aircraft the shearing action of the airflow causes bubbles to be formed – in a nutshell this improves the smothering effect of the water, allowing it to be more effective and to remain on the ground for a longer period. Class A Foam is applied directly to the fire. Retardant is a slurry – with a similar consistency to tomato soup – that contains mainly water and high-grade ammonium phosphate or ammonium sulphate (as are commonly used in agricultural fertilisers). The retardant is laid ahead of the fire and coats the fuel (leaves, twigs and bark etc) on the ground. As the fire burns into the coated fuel a chemical reaction occurs and this effectively retards the fire. The main advantage of retardant is that it remains effective for some time after it is dropped. As well as water, only approved Class A foam and retardant products may be dropped from aircraft in Australia. Australian agencies utilise the Wildland Fire Chemical System of the United States Department of Agriculture.

 

 

Can you use sea-water?

Most firefighting aircraft are capable of dropping either salt or fresh water. However, for helicopters that are equipped with bellytanks that use hover-fill pumps, or with buckets on ‘short’ lines, we do tend to prefer to use fresh water if possible. This is to avoid the chance of ingesting salt into the turbine engines, and into some particular parts of the airframe that are susceptible to corrosion – all of which requires substantial extra maintenance at the end of the day. However, in an emergency, any suitable water supply will be used, including sea water, and the extra maintenance will be undertaken. For helicopters equipped with sea-snorkels (allowing the helicopter to maintain forward speed when filling) and buckets on long lines (greater than 100 feet) the use of sea water does not create these maintenance issues. All Type 1 (large) helicopters contracted for firefighting in Australia have this equipment as standard and routinely use salt water. There may also be situations where the Air Attack Supervisor is conscious of the possible environmental effect of a large amount of salt water (for example on sensitive vegetation or in domestic water supply areas) and may require the pilot to use fresh water if available. This would only be the case in very limited circumstances. Again, in an emergency any suitable water supply will be used.