Trials are currently underway to test the capabilities of night-time aerial fire fighting, with the NSW Bushfire Inquiry recommending the technology be fully implemented if trials are successful.
Recommendation 52 of the inquiry reads, “That, in order to enhance NSW’s fire fighting capacity, Government trial aerial fire fighting at night in the 2020-21 season with a view to full implementation if successful.”
Bridget Ryan, co-owner of True North Helicopters, said the trials are only in the early stages, but she and husband Jim would explore adopting the technology if the appropriate funding and safety precautions are in place.
“We’re interested to see what their trials come up with, but the effect of night-time aerial fighting has definitely got to outweigh the safety factors associated with night-time flying and the cost as well,” she said. “The aircraft have to be equipped differently, training has to be done, and training has got to be done at certain time frames during the year, because you’ve got to keep current all year long.”
As of 2020, Canadian company Coulson Aviation has been approved for advanced Night Vision Goggle (NVG) aerial firefighting in Australia and in California. The company cites the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria as “the trigger” for their exploration into the use of advanced aerial firefighting methods.
Coulson’s first night-time trials were conducted in 2011, with the State of Victoria the first to allow NVG night-time firefighting missions during the 2017-18 season.
Read more on this story at the TA Times