This year, firefighting agencies across the country are battling a dramatic increase in the severity and frequency of bushfires due to the impact of the ongoing drought and adverse forecast weather conditions.
On any given day or night, high above the raging fires, a unique, high-tech “eye in the sky” keeps watch, working round the clock to provide critical fire intelligence imagery and mapping data to fire agencies.
This data provides an essential intelligence capability to assist incident management teams to plan and deploy tactical firefighting assets. So far this season Air Affairs aircraft have scanned equivalent to 50 per cent of the total area of Australia.
Air Affairs Australia has provided Airborne Bushfire Reconnaissance services throughout Australia since 1994. Since its first demonstrated capability in the summer of 1994-95, the service has been used extensively in this unique role.
Located in the Albatross Aviation Technology Park next to HMAS Albatross near Nowra with access to the airfield, the aircraft are able to take off at short notice.
Established as a crucial element in Bushfire intelligence gathering, Firescan captures line scan imagery of bushfire activity, delivered during both day and night-time flight operations, provides imaging of the ground, clearly defining active fire and burnt terrain through dense smoke.
With many of these fast moving bushfires, the need for rapid wide-area fire intelligence is logistically critical in supporting ground crews. The service also allows for monitoring remote area bushfires. Images are transmitted directly from the aircraft via satellite to operation centres for near real-time utilisation.
“It is personally inspiring to see the significant efforts our crew and staff undertake every year to provide and deliver this important service in a challenging environment,” Chris Sievers, Chief Executive Officer of Air Affairs Australia said. “We are proud to support our Firefighting Agency customers in their critically important efforts to protect life and property. Firescan is an important part of our business, which we committed to 25 years ago with a vision of one day achieving a national and international service.
“The Air Affairs team was established using aerial bushfire surveillance experts which I am extremely proud of. We must now grow together with the fire agencies to meet evolving environmental challenges, to make certain we continue to contribute to the community that relies so much on us. We are committed to work with governments, both state and federal, to contribute our part of an evolving national aerial firefighting fleet.”