NSW Police Force (NSWPF) Aviation Command has commenced operations of three newly-acquired Bell 429 helicopters.
The three aircraft – PolAir 1, 3 and 4 – will be used for patrols, search and rescue, surveillance and specialist operations across NSW. The helicopters were funded by the $50m Future Light Helicopter Program.
“The Bell 429 helicopters have been specifically designed and fitted with the best technology available to carry out search and rescue operations, conduct aerial patrols and surveillance operations,” Commissioner Mick Fuller said during a commissioning ceremony last Tuesday.
“Each one has been customised with the most sophisticated equipment, including a FLIR camera system, advanced mapping systems, tactical radio and rescue hoist winch.”
The helicopters carry a Trakka beam and FLIR 380 HDc camera system.
NSWPF believes the helicopter’s capabilities enable a greater response to any job, at any time, be it search and rescue or surveillance, whereas previously a change of aircraft may have been needed.
Aviation Commander Superintendent Brad Monk said the Bell 429s are a welcomed boost to policing across the state.
“These new choppers take us forward and put us at the forefront of airborne law enforcement,” he said. “The upgraded technology means we can better support Police Area Commands and Police Districts in fighting crime from the air and making the community safer.
"By now using only two types of helicopters (the Bell 429 and Bell 412), we’ve standardised the fleet making it more cost-efficient to operate and easier to maintain."
NSWPF Aviation Command's updated fleet now consists of five helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft:
PolAir 1 (Bell 429)
PolAir 2 (Bell 412)
PolAir 3 (Bell 429)
PolAir 4 (Bell 429)
PolAir5 (Bell 412)
PolAir 6 (Cessna Caravan)
PolAir 7 (Cessna Caravan)
PolAir8 (Cessna Caravan)
The Bell 429s were assembled in Canada last year before being delivered to Aviation Command’s airbase in Bankstown this year, where they will be maintained by the command’s full-time crew of engineers on-site.