New police helicopters to keep the community safe
The NSW Police Force now operates the newest fleet of police helicopters in the Southern Hemisphere following the Government’s investment in three new Bell 429 helicopters.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott joined NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller APM and the Member for East Hills Wendy Lindsay today to unveil the three new light helicopters at a commissioning ceremony at the Police Aviation Command in Bankstown.
The three additional light helicopters bring the current Aviation Command fleet to eight aircraft, with two Bell 412 helicopters and three Cessna Caravan fixed-wing aircraft, and were funded by the NSW Government $50 million Future Light Helicopter Program.
PolAir helicopters have undertaken 645 search-and-rescue operations locating 157 missing people, and rescuing a further 30 members of the community so far this year.
Mr Perrottet said the new light helicopter fleet represents a record investment in the State’s aviation law-enforcement capabilities.
“The NSW Government is committed to ensuring the NSW Police Force has the world-leading resources and equipment to keep our communities safe across the entire state,” he said.
“We know that these aviation resources are a vital component to our policing responses, and I am confident that PolAir 1, 3, and 4 will play a critical role in our future operations.”
Mr Elliott said the NSW Police Force Aviation Command is one of the most experienced and capable law-enforcement aviation agencies in the world.
“We’ve all seen the important work of the Police Aviation Command in recent weeks after a PolAir crew found three-year-old ‘AJ’ who’d been missing from his family farm in Putty for 72 hours,” Mr Elliott said.
“Only five days earlier, we saw a PolAir crew rescue a 15-year-old girl after she was thrown into the water of the Nepean River and washed into an inaccessible part where debris from recent floods had formed an island of logs trapped in a bottleneck of fast-flowing water.
“Land crews had been unable to reach her and the teen had been in the cold waters of the Nepean River for up to two hours when the helicopter crew sighted her, clinging to a semi-submerged log.
“The Polair crew member was winched down to the river and swam to the girl, securing her into the harness before they were both winched back to the safety of the helicopter.”
Commissioner Fuller said each helicopter had been purpose-built to policing specifications.
“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 Fuller said.
“Each one has been customised with the most sophisticated equipment, including a FLIR camera system, advanced mapping systems, tactical radio, and rescue hoist winch.
Other important features of the Bell 429 helicopters include a high-powered controllable searchlight ‘Trakka beam’, video downlinking for real-time situational awareness, and a public address system.