Why fly? How do we know that aerial firefighting operations are effective and efficient? | Natural Hazards Research Australia

Why fly? How do we know that aerial firefighting operations are effective and efficient?

Photo: John Bates
Project type

Core research

Project status

In progress

The overall aims of this project are to:

  • understand and build the existing use profile of the aerial firefighting (water-bombing) platforms, across different states, territories and landscapes in Australia.
  • understand the profile of the purposes for which aerial firefighting platforms are deployed, and how effective that purpose has been.
Project details

The goal of this study is to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of aerial firefighting operations in Australia, using both data analysis from the ARENA database and case study analyses of specific aerial fire-fighting incident responses. 

With better information, fire authorities can obtain and deploy the most suitable aerial firefighting aircraft based on the operating environment and the task at hand.

In partnership with the AFAC's National Aerial Firefighting Centre, this study will apply a statistical and geospatial analysis over the data contained within the Arena database, where over 10 years of data can be analysed. This analysis should describe aerial platforms in this data according to their efficacy (the ability of a system to meet the particular objective), and reliability (the probability that the system performs as required) for the different contexts.

This will be enhanced by the insights gained through carefully chosen case studies that will demonstrate complexities that are not apparent at the larger scale.

Through building these profiles of use, and assessing the effectiveness where the data is available, agencies will have the information they need to select the optimal mix of aircraft according to objective and cost.

The analysis of the data will also reveal information gaps in reporting, and how SOPs might be improved as a consequence. This will help to create a lasting national database that can be applied to risk mitigation models.