“Coulson Aviation’s affinity with Australia is pervasive. We proudly employ many Australians, while our seasonal international aerial firefighters have built deep connections within our communities and our nation’s emergency services…”— Chris Smallhorn
With Australian summer contracts at an end for the seasonal large aircraft, Coulson Aviation’s powerhouse firefighting aircraft have made the journey back to their home bases.
Two C130s, a 737 FIRELINER, three Sikorsky S61 helitankers, and a Sikorsky S76 aerial supervision platform were contracted to Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia this summer.
Western Australia was the first in the world to benefit from the C130 Ty in fire operations, as the former Norwegian military aircraft underwent extensive avionic upgrades and a RADS tanking system prior to its arrival in Australia.
Coulson Aviation Australia CEO, Chris Smallhorn, said this summer they had experienced a reduced fire threat across Australia, but the two C-130s and 737 FIRELINER Gaia had played an integral role in assisting Western Australian communities and emergency services.
“The capability where the New South Wales Rural Fire Service 737 FIRELINER was working from its home base in Richmond in the morning and delivering fire retardant on the WA fires later that day was impressive by any measure,” he said.
“These are the types of emergency response capabilities the impacted WA communities benefited from that day, and that those capabilities are what our nation deserves.”
Coulson has also continued to contribute to the Victorian night fire suppression trial through the NVG-enabled Sikorsky S61 and the S76 aerial intelligence platform based at Ballarat.
The work of the trial this year focused on allowing crews to conduct first attack at night which is the same approach Coulson has successfully conducted in the US. This is a reflection of the highest level in industry risk management, training, equipment, and procedures that are hallmarks of Coulson Aviation.
The certification through the Victorian trial now enables Coulson teams to undertake night fire suppression missions in the Sikorsky helitaks anywhere in Australia.
Coulson Aviation has operated in Australia for more than 20 years, providing aerial support across multiple Australian States including during Black Saturday and the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires.
Coulson Aviation Australia has headquarters at Bankstown, with bases at RAAF Base Richmond and Avalon Airport. As well as bringing in the heavy seasonal aircraft, Coulson Aviation Australia employs nearly 40 Australians including pilots, crew, and engineers for the NSW-owned RFS Boeing 737 Large Air Tanker, Citation jets, and Bell B412 helicopters.
Mr. Smallhorn said a mix of international and local team members supported the heavy aircraft while in country. “Coulson Aviation’s affinity with Australia is pervasive. We proudly employ many Australians, while our seasonal international aerial firefighters have built deep connections within our communities and our nation’s emergency services,” he said.
“We are very focused on supporting and helping to build the Australian aviation industry using the broad experience we have both locally and internationally.”
Attribution: Pics with thanks to Coulson pilot Hakon and Aviation Spotters Online