NSW RFS night fire bombing trials - Phase 4 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 integrate and finalise a fully capable standalone night time firebombing capability with a Bell 412 and CH47 helicopter.
  • To safely transition from day to night operations by undertaking only night flights in various locations using natural and remote dip sites.
  • Transition Bell 412 role in providing:
    • Aerial intelligence
    • Fire identification
    • Dip site identification
    • Hazard identification
    • Fire ground and Incident Controller communications
    • Aircraft communications
    • Air attack

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

Flying schedule

  • 1st flight - Aircraft 412 and CH47 departing 2000 for Cataract Dam and returning 2130
  • 2nd flight - Aircraft 412 departing 2200 for Bankstown