Army personnel deployed in support of the bushfire relief effort in Victoria have achieved a record for the most hours flown in a month by the Australian CH-47 Chinook fleet.
After arriving at RAAF Base East Sale in support of Operation Bushfire Assist, Task Unit Chinook (5th Aviation Regiment) has flown numerous sorties in Victoria and South Australia, conducting evacuations and specialist logistics tasks.
Maintenance Troop Commander for C Squadron Captain Amy Power said hitting the 400-hour mark after a month was testament to her team’s high-tempo deployment.
“The team have found the experience really worthwhile. We want to help in these situations, so coming down here has been a great way to support the Australian community and of course support the Victorian government in their efforts to help with the bushfires,” CAPT Power said.
CAPT Power added, “At the start of our deployment to Bushfire Assist, we conducted a lot of evacuations and now we are providing specialist logistics support in the form of moving people and equipment. We’ve been taking hay, generators and fuel to farmers, as well as assisting the Red Cross to transport their supplies.”
The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a versatile, twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter. Its top speed of 170 knots (315 kilometres per hour) is faster than many contemporary utility and attack helicopters. Its primary roles include troop movement, artillery emplacement and battlefield resupply.
The Chinook’s primary roles include troop movement, artillery emplacement and battlefield resupply. There is a wide loading ramp at the rear of the fuselage and three external-cargo hooks underneath.
With more powerful engines, larger composite rotor blades and advanced avionics systems, the latest Chinook is faster than many attack helicopters.
Task Unit Chinook will keep up the tempo when it returns to home base in Townsville by maintaining readiness for the high-risk weather season.
“Once we get home, we’ll get some services in and get the aircraft ready so we can go again if we need to. My job is to fix and diagnose the electrical systems on board the CH-47 Chinook,” CAPT Power explained.
Corporal Eamon Fuery was contacted by his unit and tasked to the operation on New Year’s Eve. Task Unit Chinook departed Townsville on 1 January and began operating out of RAAF Base East Sale the following day.
“It’s been great conducting the maintenance in support of a defined task like Bushfire Assist. Working on Chinooks is fantastic. It would be difficult to move me onto a different airframe – I love working on these. I was proud to be a part of the record flight hours and contribute to the maintenance and keeping the aircraft in the air,” CPL Fuery said.
Part of the task unit’s work while based out of Adelaide included providing assistance on Kangaroo Island.