Victoria Police Air Wing

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Air Wing
AW139
AW139
ActiveMay 1975 – present[1]
CountryAustralia
AgencyVictoria Police
Role
Part ofSpecialist Response Division[2]
HeadquartersEssendon Airport
Equipment
Aircraft

The Air Wing is the police aviation unit of Victoria Police that operates in metropolitan Melbourne and provides a service to the whole of Victoria.[3]

The Air Wing operates a fleet of three Leonardo AW139 helicopters and a Beechcraft Super King Air fixed-wing aircraft.[4][5] The Air Wing responds to more than 5000 jobs a year.[4]

History[edit]

The Air Wing was formed in 1975 after members of the Victoria Police Aero Club demonstrated to Victoria Police and government the potential of utilising aviation assets for policing roles.[3] The first operational flight was on 22 May 1975 of a fixed wing aircraft.[1] The Air Wing initially leased single engine and twin engine fixed wing aircraft. Various planes were operated including the Aero Commander 500S/Shrike Commander and the PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain.[6] The last planes operated by the Air Wing were two twin engine Aero Commander.[3] The government did not renew the three-year lease and it expired on 30 June 1993.[7] Approximately 95% of all flights had been for transportation.[8] The government instead provided Victoria Police with access to the existing government charter service by Victorian Airlines.[8] In 2005, the Office of Police Integrity recommended that Victoria Police have fixed wing aircraft for the urgent deployment of specialist police to regional Victoria.[9]

In 1976, the first helicopter pilot joined the Air Wing.[10] In 1977, the Air Wing conducted a six-week evaluation trial of flying regular helicopter patrols.[11] In 1978, the Air Wing leased a Hughes 500D helicopter conducting night time operations.[12] In the same year, a decision was made to purchase a helicopter. In 1979, the Air Wing purchased a twin-engined Aérospatiale SA365C1 Dauphin 2 (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).[13][14] 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.[15]

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.[3][16]

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.[16] In December 1998, the Air Wing was involved in the search and rescue effort to rescue sailors participating in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in severe weather conditions.[17] From 2001, the Air Wing began to re-equip with new aircraft provided by CHC Helicopters, with the "much loved"[16] SA365C1 models being replaced by their more powerful and much upgraded derivative, the AS365N3 Dauphin.[16]

Along with the three new Dauphin helicopters, the Squirrel was also replaced with a new twin-engined Eurocopter EC135 T2+ that fulfilled the same role.[3] The two engines of the EC135 meant it was able to safely operate over urban areas where the single-engined Squirrel was limited or excluded.[16] While the new aircraft had much greater capabilities over the previous generation, such as HD Forward looking infrared (FLIR), LogiMap moving map software and Night Vision Goggles (NVG), the new aircraft were also significantly quieter, an important feature when operating over urban areas.[16] The EC135 was not fitted with a hoist so was unable to perform a search and rescue role if the mission required an extraction.[17]

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 had a partnership, and their Bell 412 specialist aeromedical helicopter.[16]

In 2011, AS365N3 Dauphin VH-PVH assisted the Western Australia Police with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 CHOGM 2011 held in Perth.[18][19]

In 2016, it was announced that three new helicopters would be purchased with funding of $63.2 million to replace the ageing Dauphin fleet and to introduce a fixed wing plane.[20][21] In October 2018, it was announced that the Dauphin would be replaced by the Leonardo AW139 provided by StarFlight Victoria and that the Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER provided by Skytraders had been selected to re-introduce a fixed wing capability.[4][22] The AW139 has a longer endurance and longer range compared to the Dauphin while the Super King Air has more than double the endurance and range to the Dauphin.[4] The Super King Air will be fitted with a daylight and infrared camera and mapping and image detection systems and will be flown by contracted pilots.[4] The Super King Air will enable a faster response time to regional and remote areas for tactical deployments of the SOG and the CIRT and by investigators from the Major Collision Investigation Unit.[23]

In 2019, the Air Wing retired the EC135 from service.[24][25] In October 2019, the Air Wing established a Drone Unit to operate the DJI Matrice 210 drone and to manage all drones within Victoria Police including training other police units to operate basic drones.[26][27]

In June 2020, the first of the AW139 helicopters entered service with the remaining to enter service shortly after.[28] One of the AW139 helicopters is in grey livery with the other two are in white and blue livery similar to the Dauphin fleet.[29] In August 2020, the Super King Air 350ER entered service.[5]

Air Ambulance Victoria Partnership[edit]

The Victoria Police Air Wing had a partnership with Air Ambulance Victoria (AAV) from 1986 to 2017 to provide a 24-hour emergency air ambulance capability utilising one of the Dauphin helicopters.[30][31] This helicopter call sign Air 495 was fitted out for the aeromedical role.[31][16] The partnership covered joint operations and joint use of the aeromedical Dauphin so it could be utilised for police roles when not required for evacuation, as well as providing a replacement Dauphin helicopter while it is receiving maintenance.[16] This co-operation was aided by having the two organisations sharing facilities at Essendon Airport.

In January 2017, Ambulance Victoria entered into service the last of five new AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters with it to be based at Essendon replacing the service provided by the Air Wing Dauphin.[30] The air ambulance Dauphin Air 495 was subsequently reconfigured from its aeromedical configuration to become a dedicated police helicopter.[17]

Roles[edit]

Dauphin 2 helicopter

The Air Wing undertake a wide variety of roles including:[3][4]

  • 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,
  • Photographic tasks providing aerial photography for crime, traffic, planning and routine operations, as well as covert surveillance, observation and photography of criminal activities,
  • Tactical deployments.

The majority of pilots are civilian sourced pilots who are required to attend the police academy to complete several police recruit courses to become a sworn officer.[17]

Aircraft[edit]

AW139 VH-PVO above Melbourne City, on its delivery flight.
Current Aircraft
Model Registration Serial No. Year built ICAO hex Notes
Beechcraft King Air 350ER VH-PVE FL-1181 2019 7C4EE8 POL35 - Delivered 22 June 2020
AgustaWestland AW139 VH-PVO 31878 2019 7C4EF2 POL30 - Delivered 11 June 2020
AgustaWestland AW139 VH-PVQ 31884 2019 7C4EE4 POL31 - Delivered 17 July 2020
AgustaWestland AW139 VH-PVR 31885 2019 7C4EF5 POL32 - Delivered 17 July 2020
Past Aircraft
Model Registration Serial No. Year built Years Notes
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin VH-PVD 6846 2009 2002 - 2020 POL36 - ICAO hex 7C4EE7
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin VH-PVG 6597 2001 2002 - 2020 POL34 - ICAO hex 7C4EEA
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin VH-PVH 6604 2001 2002 - 2020 POL33 - ICAO hex 7C4EEB
Aero Commander 500 type ? – 1993
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.[13]
Aérospatiale AS350BA Squirrel VH-PVM 2058 1987 1988–2010
Eurocopter EC135 T2+ VH-PVE 0834 2009 2010–2019 Now registered as N834UW.[24][25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Police Department Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1976. Retrieved 8 December 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "Transit and Public Safety Command". Victoria Police. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Air Wing". Victoria Police. 6 January 2015. Archived from the original on 1 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "New aircraft to enhance police eyes in the sky". Victoria Police (Press release). 23 October 2018. Archived from the original on 25 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Textron Aviation Special Missions delivers airborne law enforcement fixed-wing King Air 350ER aircraft to Victoria Police". Textron Aviation (Press release). 25 August 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Victoria Police Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1979. Retrieved 8 December 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Police and Emergency Services – Air Wing – Contract (Question No. 238)". Parliament of Victoria. 8 March 1994. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Assembly – Mr McNamara (Minister for Police and Emergency Services)". Parliament of Victoria. 15 September 1993. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Review of fatal shootings by Victoria Police / report of the Director, Police Integrity" (PDF). Office of Police Integrity. November 2005. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  10. ^ "Police Department Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1976. Retrieved 8 December 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "Victoria Police Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1977. Retrieved 8 December 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Victoria Police Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1978. Retrieved 8 December 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ a b Bastable, Kate (21 January 2010). "Second rescue chopper for region". Daily Mercury. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Helicopter Emergency Medical Services 1". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  15. ^ Bruce Tobin; Brian Walsh (10 August 1987). "City massacre". The Sun. p. 1. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Moclair, Tony. "Sky patrol, Victoria Police Air Wing". Australian Aviation. October 2011: 36–39. ISSN 0813-0876.
  17. ^ a b c d Mason, Ryan (July 2017). "Victoria Police Air Wing 40 Years of Saving Lives". Heliweb Magazine. Georgia, US: Airborne Productions. OCLC 1089399104. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Interstate police officers arrive in Perth for CHOGM". ABC News. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Operation Demille – Securing Perth for CHOGM 2011". Jet Thrust Aviation Images. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  20. ^ "A Landmark, Victorian-First Plan To Keep People Safe". Premier of Victoria (Press release). 7 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  21. ^ "Community Safety Statement 2017" (PDF). Victorian Government. December 2016. ISSN 2207-192X. Retrieved 9 October 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ "Leonardo announces three AW139 helicopters for Victoria Police of Australia". Leonardo (Press release). 26 February 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Community Safety Statement 2019-20" (PDF). Victorian Government. 1 July 2019. ISSN 2207-192X. Retrieved 9 October 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. ^ a b "Eurocopter EC135T2+ c/n 0834". Helicopter history site. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  25. ^ a b "N834UW USA Aircraft Registration Details". RegoSearch.com. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Sky's the limit for Victoria Police's new drone unit". Victoria Police (Press release). 13 July 2019. Archived from the original on 13 July 2019.
  27. ^ Hosking, Wes (21 October 2019). "Drone arsenal to be unleashed on police pursuits, fires and major events". Herald Sun.
  28. ^ "Victoria Police Air Wing reaches new heights". Victoria Police (Press release). 23 June 2020. Archived from the original on 23 June 2020.
  29. ^ "Revealed: The new police choppers on the way to Melbourne". 3AW. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  30. ^ a b "New era on the horizon for Air Ambulance". Ambulance Victoria (Press release). 13 January 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  31. ^ a b "HEMS 1". Colac Ambulance. Retrieved 23 January 2017.

External links[edit]