NSW RFS night fire bombing trials - Phase 3 day and night time training

Night time aerial firefighting and emergency operations, including the use of night vision devices in helicopters, is a relatively new concept in Australia. NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) continues to develop a night time aviation capability for firefighting and support to other emergency operations.

As part of this capability development, NSW RFS and Coulson Aviation undertook a trial of a night-time aerial fire-bombing during the 2021/22 bush fire season, involving the NSW RFS owned Bell 412 Helicopter and Coulson Aviation owned CH47 Chinook (on National Aerial Firefighting Centre contract), utilising the current Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approvals held by Coulson Aviation.

There are 5 phases as part of the development and implementation. It is intended to have up to 6 Air Attack Supervisors (AAS) and 6 Airborne Systems Operators (ASO) undertake the program. Each NSW RFS AAS and ASO will progress through each implementation phase.


  • To develop operational capability of conducting night firebombing with a Bell 412 and CH47 helicopter.
  •  Validate procedures and operations transitioning from day to night missions.
  •  To safely transition from day to night operations by undertaking afternoon then night flights by same crew undertaking the same mission ensuring:
    • Location flown in daylight
    • Hazards clearly identified
    • Area of Operations is clearly identified

For more information, visit the Defence Aircraft Noise website or call 1300 DEFENCE (1300 333 362).

Flying schedule

  • 5 days allocated to accommodate weather variables and Pilot, AAS and ASO rotation.
  • The trial is planned to ensure the aircrew are rostered for a later start to accommodate afternoon and night flights.
  • 1st flight: Aircraft 412 and CH47 departing 1730 for Upper Colo Area and returning 1830
  • 2nd Flight: Aircraft 412 and CH47 departing 2030 for Upper Colo and returning 2130
  • 3rd Flight: Aircraft 412 departing 2230 for Bankstown