Victoria Police Air Wing

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Air Wing
Victoria Police (CHC Helicopters Australia) Eurocopter AS-365N-3 Dauphin 2 Vabre-3.jpg
Active May 1975 - Present[1]
Country Australia Australia
Branch Victoria Police
Role Law enforcement
Search and Rescue
Garrison/HQ Essendon Airport
Aircraft flown
Helicopter 3 x AS365 Dauphin
1 x EC135 T2+

The Victoria Police Air Wing is the police aviation unit of the Victoria Police operating rotary wing aircraft in metropolitan Melbourne and providing a service to the whole of Victoria.[2] In 2016, it was announced that new helicopters will be purchased and also an aeroplane.[3][4] In 2017, the air ambulance service ceased with Ambulance Victoria releasing a helicopter for dedicated police duty.[5]

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.[2] 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.[2] 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 2016, it was announced that one fixed wing aircraft would be purchased.[3]

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.[2][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] 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 3 new Dauphin helicopters, the Squirrel has also been replaced with a new twin-engined Eurocopter EC135 T2+ that fulfills the same role.[2] 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.[16] While the new aircraft have 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 are also significantly quieter, an important feature when operating over urban areas.[16] 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.[17][18]

In 2016, it was announced that 3 new helicopters will be purchased with funding of $63 million (includes an aeroplane) to replace the aging Dauphin fleet.[3][4]

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 AS365N3 Dauphin helicopters.[5][19] This aircraft call sign Air 495 was fitted out for the aeromedical role.[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 AS365N3 Dauphin helicopters.[5] The primary air ambulance helicopter will now become a dedicated police helicopter and it and the back up reconfigured from aeromedical.

Roles[edit]

Dauphin 2 helicopter

The Air Wing undertake a wide variety of roles including:[2]

  • 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.

Aircraft[edit]

Current Aircraft
Model Registration Serial No. Year Built Introduction Notes
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin VH-PVH 6604 2001 2001
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin VH-PVG 6597 2001 2001
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin VH-PVD 6846 2009 2009
Eurocopter EC135 T2+ VH-PVE 0834 2009 2010
Past Aircraft
Model Registration Serial No. Year Built Years Notes
Aero Commander 500 type  ? - 1993
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

See also[edit]

Similar Australian units[edit]

Related articles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Police Department Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1976. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Air Wing". Victoria Police. 6 January 2015. Archived from the original on 1 April 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "A Landmark, Victorian-First Plan To Keep People Safe". Premier of Victoria (Press release). 7 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Community Safety Statement 2017" (PDF). Victorian Government. December 2016. ISSN 2207-192X. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c "New era on the horizon for Air Ambulance". Ambulance Victoria (Press release). 13 January 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "Victoria Police Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1979. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  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. 
  11. ^ "Victoria Police Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1977. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "Victoria Police Annual Report" (PDF). Victoria Police. 1978. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  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. Phantom Media. October 2011: 36–39. ISSN 0813-0876. 
  17. ^ "Interstate police officers arrive in Perth for CHOGM". ABC News. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  18. ^ "Operation Demille – Securing Perth for CHOGM 2011". Jet Thrust Aviation Images. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  19. ^ "HEMS 1". Colac Ambulance. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 

External links[edit]