Aerotech’s Australian-first Black Hawk deployment a game changer in aerial firefighting
Friday June 4, 2021
In an Australian first, Adelaide based aviation company, Aerotech, has purchased two ex US Military
Black Hawk helicopters for aerial firefighting operations in Australia.
With preparations already well underway for the next bushfire season, the Black Hawks will be the
first Australian owned and operated and the first to be on the Australian civil aircraft register.
Aerotech Managing Director, Sam McCabe, said the Black Hawk helicopters were a game changer for
aerial firefighting in Australia and worldwide.
“Black Hawk helicopters are fast, reliable, can be deployed quickly and drop more than 4,000 litres of
water per load to contain fires quickly,” Mr McCabe said.
“Our helicopters will remain in Australia all year round. This responds to a key finding of the recent
Bushfires Royal Commission that state and federal governments should develop an Australian
sovereign aerial fleet comprising ‘Large Type 1 Helicopters’ such as the Black Hawk.
“It also overcomes the issue of relying on northern-hemisphere based Type 1 helicopters, which is
becoming more problematic as the length of the bushfire season is getting longer in both
hemispheres, therefore making it difficult for Australia to access these additional resources from
overseas in shoulder periods.”
Mr McCabe said Aerotech, which was already responsible for the majority of South Australia’s aerial
firefighting efforts, would seek operational contracts in Australia to provide additional capacity in
support of existing firefighting aircraft as needed.
“Aerotech is committed to investing in the world’s most capable and effective aerial firefighting fleet,
and supporting government aerial firefighting strategies,” Mr McCabe said.
“We’re employing South Australian pilots, engineers, ground crews and support staff. Several
Australian businesses directly or indirectly will provide services to support the Black Hawks and
benefit from their introduction.
“South Australia’s existing aerial firefighting strategy, Rapid Initial Attack, which was pioneered by
Aerotech and the CFS more than 30 years ago, has since been adopted by fire authorities across
“We’re focussed on keeping fires small by deploying aircraft quickly and dropping large amounts of
water in the shortest possible time frame, thereby providing volunteers on the ground with more
time to contain and extinguish fires.”
About the Black Hawk
The Black Hawk helicopter (UH-60) is a formidable civilian asset for firefighting utilising a
• Maximum All Up Weight: 10 Tons
• Maximum flight speed: 193 knots (360km/h)
• Cruise speed: 140 knots (260km/h)
• Cargo hook capable of lifting 3,600 Kgs for external load operations
• Main Rotor Diameter: 16.3 metres
• Overall Length: 19.5 metres)
• Horsepower: 2 General Electric GE-701D/CC engines providing 1,994 shaft
Horsepower (1,488 kW each engine)
• Belly Tank capacity: 4,000 litres of water/retardant
• Re-fill time using snorkel (tank/lake/dam): 35 seconds
Formed in 1968, Aerotech employs 70 South Australians and has a fleet of 25 fixed wing and 10
helicopters providing a diverse range of work in aerial firefighting, mining and construction utility
work, agricultural operations, oil spill management, media, and executive charter. Aerotech is South
Australia’s largest privately-owned aviation company, with its head office based at Parafield Airport.