Opposition politicians in New South Wales are calling on the Australian federal government to buy or lease a permanent firefighting helicopter because the bushfire season is starting earlier each year. Australia has to wait for the wildfire season to end in the northern hemisphere before it leases large-capacity aerial equipment from the USA.

The call follows the arrival last week of two Erickson Skycrane (Sikorsky S-64E) firefighting helicopters leased from the USA. They will be based in Sydney and Melbourne for four months and are to be joined by a third following the allocation of additional funding by the federal government - which has been warned that this year bushfires could be especially critical.

Source: Flight International