Aviation Services

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services manage contracted aircraft and other aviation services to support emergency management and incident response across the State.

DFES also manages the RAC Rescue Helicopter network, the State’s only dedicated emergency rescue helicopter.  The service provides vital, all-hazards search and rescue services with critical care aeromedical capabilities 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

DFES Aerial Fleet

DFES operates a sophisticated aerial fleet to respond to fire and other emergency incidents, supporting firefighters and incident managers on the ground to protect lives, property, and the environment throughout Western Australia’s bushfire season.

DFES Aerial Fleet Quick Facts


DFES deploys Helitaks (aerial fire suppression helicopters) when public safety or assets are considered at imminent risk, when fire-fighting crews are in immediate danger, during extreme fire behaviour, or when high fuel loads are likely to accelerate the spread of a bushfire.

Since their introduction in 2002, Helitaks have proved to be a versatile, powerful, and efficient aerial resource for firefighters in their efforts to save lives and homes.  DFES’ utility helicopter and Helitaks support operations and transport personnel, food, water and fuel to isolated communities during significant natural disasters, such as flooding.

More about Helitaks

Fixed-wing Bombers

During a significant bushfire, DFES will call on additional fixed-wing bombers from The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

These aircraft assist DFES in containing large bushfires and support the ground crews and helicopter fleet. They are capable of carrying and dropping up to 3,200 litres of water.

More about Fixed-wing Bombers

Air Intelligence

Air Intelligence aircraft assists our Incident Management Teams with critical, strategic decision making by providing real-time incident information and intelligence, including an uninterrupted, live-streaming view of the incident. Highly trained firefighters provide situational awareness and assessments on the potential impacts to the community and critical infrastructure.

Line Scanner

The Line Scanner can be used to establish and maintain strategic situational awareness, fire detection, disaster planning and management, and fire and flood mapping operations. The aircraft is fitted with a range of sensitive thermal and visual sensors, and a broadband satellite data communication system which enables rapid transfer of data from the aircraft to users on the ground.

Line Scanners create thermal mapping images (pictured left) which provides detail on fire front locations and maps the extent of the affected area. The Line Scanner works in conjunction with other firefighting aircraft to support ground firefighting crews.

Large Air Tanker

The Large Air Tanker (LAT) can be utilised for both initial attack and retardant line building to support ground crews. The LAT is accompanied by a delegated fixed-wing air attack platform and Air Attack Supervisor. Its flexibility enables the LAT to work in both the urban interface and remote areas such as parks and forests.

RAC Rescue Helicopters

Western Australia’s emergency rescue helicopters have been operating around the clock, every day of the year for more than 20 years. RAC Rescue provides vital search and rescue and critical aeromedical services to the WA community, rapidly deploying and inserting the capabilities of its aircraft and crew into an incident.

The RAC Rescue helicopters will soon be upgrading to Leonardo AW139 models. These aircraft will fly further and faster, enabling RAC Rescue to provide rapid support to more people than ever before. Key features include a bigger cabin that will accommodate two stretchered patients and equipment or up to 10 passengers. This major fleet revamp will decrease response times and boost the capability of this world-class rescue service.

More about the RAC Rescue Helicopter
About the crew
RAC Rescue quick facts
Community Events and Training exercises
RAC Rescue – Virtual Reality Experience

More Information


DFES administers several Acts on behalf of the Minister for Emergency Services.

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Our History

The history of emergency services in Western Australia can be traced back to the early years of the Swan River Colony.

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About us

The department performs a critical role in coordinating emergency services to respond to incidents.

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Rural Fire Division

The Rural Fire Division is a Command of DFES focussed on tackling bushfire risk in WA.

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Operational Fleet

DFES’ fleet comprises aerial pumpers, urban pumpers, incident control vehicles and more.

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