Victoria Police Air Wing
|Active||1975 - Present|
|Role||Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue and Aeromedical|
The Air Wing was formed in 1975 after the members of the Victoria Police Aero Club demonstrated the potential of utilising aviation assets for policing roles. At first all Air Wing operations were conducted by leasing two twin-engine Aero Commander aircraft that transported police personnel and support staff around the state.
The first helicopter to be operated by the Air Wing was a twin-engined Aérospatiale SA365C1 Dauphin 2 purchased in 1979 (VH-PVF), the first of its kind in Australia, with another two former VIP aircraft purchased in 1986 from the Romanian Government (VH-PVA and VH-PVK). On Sunday, 9 August 1987, Air 495 (VH-PVA, the Air Ambulance) was hit by gunfire during its part in the Hoddle Street massacre, and was forced to land in a nearby park.
A single-engined Aérospatiale AS350B Squirrel was added to the fleet in 1988 for routine operations such as surveillance and traffic patrol in the country areas of Victoria, as well as pilot training duties.
In 1996 police helicopter services began to be outsourced and the helicopters sold to Lloyd Helicopters of Australia (now CHC Helicopters), with the aircraft and their maintenance being leased back. Pilots and tactical flight officers (TFO) continue to be provided by the Victoria Police. From 2001 the Air Wing began to re-equip with new aircraft provided by CHC Helicopters, with the "much loved" SA365C1 models being replaced by their more powerful and much upgraded derivative, the AS365N3 Dauphin.
Along with the 3 new Dauphin helicopters, the Squirrel has also been replaced with a new twin-engined Eurocopter EC135 T2+ that fulfills the same role. The two engines of the EC135 means it is now able to safely operate over urban areas where the single-engined Squirrel was limited or excluded. While the new aircraft have much greater capabilities over the previous generation, such as HD Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and Night Vision Goggles (NVG), the new aircraft are also significantly quieter, an important feature when operating over urban areas. In February 2009, the Air Wing moved into new, larger facilities at Essendon Airport that allowed them to be co-located with Air Ambulance Victoria, with whom they have a partnership, and their Bell 412 specialist aeromedical helicopter.
The Air Wing undertake a wide variety of roles including:
- Crime prevention and detection through regular patrols,
- Traffic surveillance of major traffic thoroughfares,
- Air-to-ground direction, guiding police on the ground to their targets,
- Search and Rescue for missing people at sea and in remote places,
- Fire duties utilising a fire bucket as an aerial fire bomber, and providing the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) with aerial observation support,
- 24 Hour Air Ambulance service,
- Photographic tasks providing aerial photography for crime, traffic, planning and routine operations, as well as covert surveillance, observation and photography of criminal activities.
The Victoria Police Air Wing has a partnership with Air Ambulance Victoria (AAV) to provide a 24 hour emergency air ambulance capability utilising one of the AS365N3 Dauphin helicopters is fitted out for the aeromedical role. This partnership covers joint operations and joint use of the aeromedical Dauphin so it can be utilised for police roles when not required for evacuation, as well as providing a replacement Dauphin helicopters while it is receiving maintenance. This co-operation is aided by having the two organisations sharing facilities at Essendon Airport.
|Model||Registration||Serial No.||Year Built||Introduction||Notes|
|Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin||VH-PVH||6604||2001||2001||Police purposed.|
|Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin||VH-PVG||6597||2001||2001||Aeromedical purposed, painted in red Air Ambulance colours.|
|Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin||VH-PVD||6846||2009||2009|
|Eurocopter EC135 T2+||VH-PVE||0834||2009||2010|
|Model||Registration||Serial No.||Year Built||Years||Notes|
|Aero Commander 500 type||1975 - ?|
|Aero Commander 500 type||1975 - ?|
|Aérospatiale SA365C1 Dauphin 2||VH-PVF||5042||1979 - 2002||First Air Wing helicopter. In private hands, with plans for restoration.|
|Aérospatiale SA365C1 Dauphin 2||VH-PVA||5025||1986 - 2010|
|Aérospatiale SA365C1 Dauphin 2||VH-PVK||5033||1986 - 2001||Donated to CQ Rescue, Queensland. Withdrawn 2010.|
|Aérospatiale AS350BA Squirrel||VH-PVM||2058||1987||1988 - 2010|
- "Air Wing". Victoria Police. 20 February 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Bastable, Kate (21 January 2010). "Second rescue chopper for region". Daily Mercury. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "Helicopter Emergency Medical Services 1". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Bruce Tobin; Brian Walsh (10 August 1987). "City massacre". The Sun. p. 1. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Moclair, Tony. "Sky patrol, Victoria Police Air Wing". Australian Aviation (Phantom Media). October 2011: 36–39. ISSN 0813-0876.
Similar Australian units
- New South Wales Police Force - Police Aviation Support Branch
- Northern Territory Police - Air Wing
- Queensland Police Service - Police Air Wing
- Western Australia Police - Police Air Wing
- Air Ambulance Victoria
- Police aviation
- Victoria Police Critical Incident Response Team
- Victoria Police Special Operations Group