The Maryland State Police unveiled the first of 10 new AgustaWestland AW139 medium twin-engine helicopters it will receive to replace its aging fleet of 11 Eurocopter AS365N Dauphins. The AW139s will be equipped with search-and-rescue, medical and law enforcement equipment as well as a full IFR avionics suite and safety-enhancing equipment such as H-Taws, night-vision-goggle compatibility, radar altimeters, satellite tracking, live video downlink, and cockpit voice and video recorders. The AW139s can perform hoist lifts while operating on a single engine.
The days of turbine helicopters as preferred police aviation tools might be coming to an end. Record state and municipal deficits have made police helicopters easy political targets for budget slashing and are forcing law-enforcement agencies that want to retain aviation units into more cost-effective innovations that include remotely piloted systems and flying light sport aircraft.
Eurocopter handed over an EC 135P2i to West Midlands Police assistant chief constable Sharon Rowe yesterday here at the Farnborough airshow. The helicopter, which was ordered last September, is a replacement of an EC 135 that was destroyed by arson last year. In the meantime, the French helicopter manufacturer kept the West Midlands Police in the air by supplying a police-configured interim EC135 shortly after the incident.
American Eurocopter has lodged a protest concerning the Maryland State Police’s (MSP) request for proposal (RFP) to replace its fleet of 11 aging AS 365Ns. Eurocopter asserts that the RFP was designed to favor the AgustaWestland AW139. Eurocopter had proposed refurbishment, rather than replacement, of the Maryland fleet along the lines of what it has done for the U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet of HH-65s.
Darkened streets, tops of buildings and open areas at night–once the bane of police forces–are no longer safe refuges for lawbreakers as increasing numbers of law-enforcement aviation units adopt infrared technology for covert criminal surveillance, tracking and subsequent capture. AIN recently visited FLIR Systems, one of the world’s leading infrared equipment developers and manufacturers, at its facility in Portland, Ore.
Although the shadow of the September 11 atrocity in the U.S. was evident at Helitech, the major American companies participated fully, and some praised both the exhibition and its new venue. Previously held at Redhill Aerodrome, conveniently close to London Gatwick Airport but all too often waterlogged, Helitech moved this year to Duxford Airfield’s hard runway and concrete apron–a switch that was widely welcomed.
Police and emergency services helicopters have undergone a dramatic metamorphosis since the mid-1980s, evolving from the equivalent of the Sopwith Camel to a worthy contemporary of the Eurofighter Typhoon, according to McAlpine Helicopters commercial director Dick Richardson. McAlpine, a Eurocopter distributor, outfits public-service helicopters in the UK.
At the end of last year, amid celebrations marking 40 years of flying police helicopters, the Hamburg police force took delivery of two new Eurocopter EC 135s to replace a pair of Bolkow BO 105s that had been flying with the city’s Police Helicopter Squadron for a quarter of a century.