The NSW Rural Fire Service faces an uphill battle to get two Black Hawk helicopters to fly firefighters to remote areas because it is deemed an unacceptable risk to safety.
Two years after plans for the Defence Force to give two Black Hawks to NSW, emails between RFS commissioner Rob Rogers and air-safety regulators reveal the barriers to the helicopters being used to plug a gap in the agency’s operational capability.
Because the helicopters were designed for the military, there are restrictions under federal law on them being used to fly civilian passengers.
The first Black Hawk was originally due to be transferred to the RFS last year. But the delivery of both has been delayed until 2022, once they are decommissioned by Defence.
The RFS has instead decided to spend $6.5 million – which was originally committed to refitting the Black Hawks – on two Bell 412 helicopters, which will be operational this bushfire season.
Three months after plans for the Black Hawks were unveiled in June 2018, Mr Rogers, who was then deputy commissioner, emailed the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to confirm there were no “showstoppers” from a “regulation point of view”.
Read more on this story at the Sydney Morning Herald