APSA's E-Newsletter is designed to help keep you informed on the very latest information in the airborne law enforcement industry. The E-Newsletter may also be read online here at our website.
APSA Honors Excellence With Annual Awards
Each year during our annual conference, APSA honors those who have gone above and beyond and made a significant impact in public safety aviation. The Association has seven awards to recognize these deserving individuals for outstanding acts of valor or meritorious service. The 2014 honorees are:
• Robert L. Cormier Award • Sgt. Michelle Cave, Calgary Police Service
See the September/October issue of Air Beat for a complete recap of the conference, award winners, and scholarship recipients.
Editor's Note: There was a marked increase in the number of aircraft purchased and put into service by public safety aviation units around the time of the annual APSA conference this year. The next six items in this newsletter detail recent aircraft acquisitions by different law enforcement aviation units around the country.
Massachusetts State Police Receives Fourth EC135
The Massachusetts State Police received its fourth EC135 T2+ twin-engine helicopter last month. The department selected the EC135 in 2009 as the replacement aircraft for its existing fleet of Airbus Helicopters AS355s. Deployment of the four EC135s significantly increases the capabilities of the Massachusetts State Police Air Wing by providing the agency with highly versatile helicopters equipped with advanced thermal imaging, searchlights, moving maps and downlink technology in an IFR platform.
"Our first three EC135s are serving the citizens of Massachusetts, and we are looking forward to our fourth ship that will be in service in late 2014 after being completed at Metro Aviation," Lieutenant Rob Smith of the Massachusetts State Police Air Wing said. "We have been flying Airbus Helicopters products since 1987, and they continue to support our statewide operations."
The EC135 and EC145 are multi-mission workhorses that account for more than 80 percent of all twin-engine helicopters in use with U.S. law enforcement agencies. The EC135 and EC145 offer advanced glass cockpits, rigid rotor systems for increased maneuverability, low maintenance costs, and numerous mission equipment options for a wide variety of operations.
San Antonio Police Puts Two New Choppers in Skies
The San Antonio (TX) Police Department has placed two new EC120s into service, giving the aviation unit an all-Airbus Helicopters helicopter fleet for patrol and search-and-rescue missions. Deployment of the new EC120s marks the beginning of a fleet upgrade project that is expected to result in the purchase of at least one more EC120 over the next few years. The agency also operates an Airbus Helicopters AS350 B3 for use in firefighting, search and rescue and other special missions.
The new EC120s, which feature a paint scheme depicting an eagle swooping down on its prey, will go by the call sign â€œEAGLE.â€ The EC120 offers a high-technology, low-cost solution. According to Airbus Helicopters, the model has been the best-selling light single-engine turbine helicopter in the law enforcement market for the past 10 years. For municipal law enforcement agencies, the aircraft is outfitted with an anti-torque system that provides quiet operation, allowing crews to arrive at in-progress calls virtually undetected.
SOURCE: Airbus Helicopters
San Diego County Adding Bell 407GX
The San Diego County (CA) Sheriff's Department has contracted with Bell Helicopter to purchase a 407GX. The aircraft will be used for para-public missions, including search and rescue, fire suppression and law enforcement air support to public safety agencies throughout San Diego County.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department currently has three Bell helicopters in operation, including two 205 A1++s and one 407. The 407GX is designed to deliver power and speed with a smooth, quiet ride and a cabin that accommodates six passengers. The aircraft also features the fully integrated Garmin G1000H flight deck, providing critical flight information at a glance for greater situational awareness and increased safety. The 407GX flight deck's high-resolution LCD screens host primary flight and multi-function display information, including a helicopter terrain avoidance warning system, Helicopter Synthetic Vision Technology and Traffic Information Systems. The aircraft also features a tail rotor camera, allowing the pilot a clear view of the tail during takeoffs and landings.
SOURCE: Bell Helicopter
Georgia State Patrol Contracts for New Bell
The Georgia State Patrol signed an agreement to purchase a Bell Helicopter 429 at APSA EXPO 2014 in Phoenix, AZ. The signing ceremony took place in front of the aircraft on display at the Bell Helicopter booth. â€œWe are excited to add this aircraft to our fleet,â€ Sergeant Greg Mercier of the Georgia State Patrol said. â€œWe will rely on the Bell 429 for its power, speed and large, accessible cabins for our para-public missions.â€
The Georgia State Patrol Aviation Division has operated Bell helicopters since the 1970s, when it purchased a Bell 47. The unit supports public safety for the citizens of Georgia with a fleet of six Bell 407s, one Bell 206, five Bell OH-58s and one Cessna 182. The unit operates out of six field hangars located throughout Georgia.
The Bell 429 features a fully integrated glass cockpit, advanced drive system and WAAS navigation and IFR capability. The 429 has a large cabin with seating for seven passengers and one flight crew, as well as 60-inch side doors and optional rear clam-shell doors for easy access for flight officers.
SOURCE: Bell Helicopter
Pennsylvania Receives First Two of Six Bell 407GXs
Pennsylvania State Police on July 22 received the first two of six 407GX helicopters it has ordered from Bell Helicopter. The aircraft will be used for airborne law enforcement patrol and will serve citizens throughout Pennsylvania. â€œWe operate six aviation patrol units across the state and provide aerial support to all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies within the Commonwealth,â€ Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. â€œIt is important that we have modern, reliable and mission-ready helicopters to patrol and serve the citizens.â€
The fleet routinely patrols its entire coverage area; however, specific patrol units are strategically situated so that response time anywhere within the patrol zone is minimal. Several new components on each ship will enable the Pennsylvania State Police flight crews to more rapidly and effectively pinpoint exact ground locations from the air, as well as provide for interoperable radio communications with ground-based first responders, which operate on multiple radio frequencies. The new capabilities also provide real-time situational awareness to incident commanders and first responders during critical incidents or disasters. These systems will aid in public information and warning, operational coordination, intelligence and information sharing, criminal activity interdiction and disruption, screening, search and detection.
Bell Helicopter has supported the Pennsylvania State Police since 1969, when it delivered two Bell 47s, the first Bell helicopters to be part of an airborne law enforcement team. The Bell 407GX delivers power and speed with a smooth, quiet ride and a spacious cabin that accommodates six passengers.
SOURCE: Bell Helicopter
Florida Sheriff's Office Adds Second MD 500E
The Polk County (FL) Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit had a ceremonial delivery of a new MD 500E helicopter at APSA EXPO 2014 in Phoenix, AZ. The MD Helicopters Inc. aircraft was accepted at the company's booth during the conference.
Equipped with seven full-time pilots and 10 part-time flight officers, the Polk County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit was launched in 1972 with two fixed-wing aircraft. Helicopters were added to the aviation unit in 1982, and the new aircraft is the second MD 500E delivery to the unit, continuing its modernization plan for its remaining OH-58 aircraft. The MD 500E is equipped with a 420-shp Rolls-Royce 250-C20B turbine engine and a complete law enforcement performance package. The MD 500E cockpit configuration includes a full complement of modern avionics with NVG lighting, a Garmin G500H glass cockpit, an AeroComputers moving map system and a Technisonic tactical radio. Utility features include a Meeker mount, Nightsun searchlight, 2,000-pound cargo hook, auxiliary fuel tank and wire strike protection kit.
SOURCE: MD Helicopters
NYPD Helicopter, UAS Have Close Midair Encounter
Two unmanned aerial systems (UAS) came into close contact with a New York Police Department Aviation Unit helicopter over the George Washington Bridge on July 7. The unit's helicopter was on patrol around midnight when it had to swerve to avoid the UAS. Officers found and arrested the aircraft operators after the incident.
NYPD pilots reportedly â€œobserved flying object[s] at 2,000 feet in vicinity of the George Washington Bridge, then circling, heading toward the helicopter.â€ The crew followed the UAS north and called ground forces. Two men, one 23 and the other 34 years of age, were determined to be the operators and apprehended. Both men were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on a single felony count of Class D reckless endangerment. Their lawyer said the incident was not as serious as authorities allege, saying the vehicle could fly no higher than 300 feet.
Snohomish Aviation Crew Makes Cliffside Rescue
The Snohomish County (WA) Helicopter Rescue Team rescued a stranded climber form a cliff in early July. Ground rescue teams determined the location of the climber and said it would be several hours before they could access him. The climber was worried he would not be able to hang on that long.
The King County (WA) Sheriff's Office then called the helicopter rescue team for assistance. Crews spotted the climber at 5,000 feet, landed at a nearby ski area parking lot to offload gear, and flew back to attempt the rescue. Once visual contact with the climber was made, the helicopter lowered a rescuer, fastened a harness around the climber and hoisted him to safety. See video of the high-altitude rescue here: http://q13fox.com/2014/07/03/watch-incredible-video-of-helicopter-team-rescuing-hiker-from-side-of-cliff/#ixzz36tFdUp7E.
New York State Police Consolidates Aviation Units
Effective July 16, the New York State Police Aviation Division has closed its Syracuse and Batavia operations and moved them to the Greater Rochester International Airport. The agency expects the consolidation to â€œprovide more resources for New Yorkers living in central and western New York.â€
Police officials said the move would provide improved coverage for missions, including search and rescue, surveillance and those involving specialty units. â€œThis move will improve efficiency and effectiveness while maintaining the same or improved levels of service,â€ a New York State Police press release read.
The New York State Police Aviation Division operates 13 helicopters and 7 airplanes. The aircraft will be stationed at four locations: Rochester, Albany, Newburgh and Saranac Lake. "Generally, state police aviation does not perform medevac missions in central New York; that service is provided by private air carriers,â€ the press release read. â€œOur mission is law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental conservation and executive transport." No job losses are expected to result from the consolidation.
FAA Preparing Phased Integration of UAS Over Five Years
Responding to a critical report regarding FAA's progress toward integrating unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the national airspace, the administration said in early July it expects to complete a plan by the end of August for a phased implementation approach over five years. The original deadline set by Congress was September 2015.
"FAA is making some progress in meeting UAS-related provisions of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, but the agency is significantly behind schedule in meeting most of them, including the goal of achieving safe integration by September 2015," the Transportation Department's Inspector General said. "FAA's delays are due to unresolved technological, regulatory, and privacy issues, which will prevent FAA from meeting Congress' September 30, 2015, deadline for achieving safe UAS integration. As a resultâ€¦it is uncertain when and if full integration of UAS into the NAS will occur."
Issues cited include establishing performance and certification standards for detect-and-avoid systems, improving the collection of safety data, developing safety risk management documents, developing training for air traffic controllers, and streamlining the process for authorizing UAS use. FAA reportedly has not reached consensus on standards for detect-and-avoid systems and data links, established a regulatory framework for UAS integration, effectively collected and analyzed UAS safety data to identify risks, or effectively managed its oversight of UAS operations.
CHP Captures Daring Rescue on Film
California Highway Patrol helicopter H-30 was requested by Southern Marin Fire Department to assist in the rescue of two juveniles that were stuck on the face of a cliff in the Golden Gate National Recreation area on July 25. H-30 responded to the area and quickly located two juveniles approximately 75 feet above the beach clinging to the face of the cliff. The juveniles were wearing only beachwear and no shoes and had no means of egress. Their location was inaccessible by ground rescuers due to the steep terrain, and lack of proximity to any roadway made it impossible to perform a high-angle rope rescue.
With the direction of ground personnel from the South Marin Fire Department, the H-30 crew lowered a rescue collar to the individuals and brought them onto the aircraft before landing on the beach, where they were reunited with their families and ground personnel. The juveniles were uninjured. Video of the rescue can be viewed at www.dropbox.com/s/01hqa0o1iooch4t/VTS_04_1.VOB.
SOURCE: California Highway Patrol
Police Use Helicopter to Break Up House Party
The Onondaga County (NY) Sheriff's Office deployed its helicopter, Air1, to help break up a house party attended by more than 500 people in early July. Deputy Herb Wiggins said ground troops found 200 cars parked around the scene when they arrived. Deputies saw packs of kids walking through several yards and between 500 and 700 people in the backyard.
Deputies decided they required backup to break up the party and radioed for Air1, in addition to other assets. While waiting for help, the officers were assailed with a glass bottle. When the helicopter arrived, the crew hovered above the yard and provided a spotlight to help deputies send partygoers on their way. At least 20 other officers came to help from the Sheriff's Office, the Manlius Police Department and the New York State Police. No arrests were made.
Portland Man Pleads Guilty to Lasing Aircraft
An Oregon man charged with aiming a laser beam at two airplanes, including one law enforcement aircraft, flying toward Portland International Airport in October pleaded guilty on July 15 in federal court to both counts. The judge accepted the guilty pleas from the 40-year-old man and set an Oct. 24 sentencing date for the former security guard.
The suspect was identified after law enforcement agencies began investigating a spike in the number of laser-pointing incidents targeting aircraft. The lasers appeared to be coming from the Gateway transit area, and a task force composed of agents of the FBI, Portland Police, Port of Portland Police and other agencies flew two airplanes as decoys in August 2013. The Portland Police Department aircraft was targeted by a laser beam and relayed the location of the light's origination to officers on the ground. The suspect was then found and apprehended.
San JosÃ©'s Air 2 Returns to Silicon Valley
The San JosÃ© (CA) Police Department's "Air 2" helicopter now calls Mineta San JosÃ© International Airport (SJC) home. The helicopter and SJPD's air support personnel returned to the airport on July 1 from their previous base at Moffett Field in Mountain View and now operate from a hangar located south of SJC's passenger terminals.
Air 2, a Eurocopter EC120 B, is based at SJC as part of SJPD's Air Support Unit. The unit provides aerial support for ground units within the department and other Santa Clara County law enforcement agencies for public and officer safety matters. Emphasis is placed on pursuits, apprehending fleeing suspects and searches for missing persons determined to be at risk.
The San JosÃ© Police Department Air Unit consists of five full-time personnel, including a sergeant and four pilots, all of whom are cross-trained as TFOs. An additional five SJPD officers are available to be assigned as observers. Air 2 was previously based at SJC but was moved to Moffett Field when hangar space was reduced at Silicon Valley's airport to make way for a runway extension.
California Fire Department Tests Multi-Mission Helicopter Program
The San Bernardino County (CA) Fire Department recently completed a trial program to test the feasibility of providing rescue, treatment and transportation for victims out of a single helicopter. The program is different from the traditional approach in that helicopters in the area are usually dedicated to specific tasks. Flight Captain Steve Simpson said the department plans to present its findings to the board of supervisors in several months.
The program began as a coordinated effort between the fire department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department on Dec. 13, 2013. The fire department is using the sheriff's refurbished military surplus helicopter for 10 hours Monday through Thursday to respond to emergency medical calls. Dispatch call logs show the helicopter is responding to a variety of incidents, including car accidents and medical emergencies like strokes, in addition to rescue situations.
Opponents say the program could raise concerns for private air ambulance companies if it is taken full-scale. The department has not publicized the helicopter program because it is still in the trial phase, but fire spokesman and flight paramedic Eric Sherwin said it was implemented in response to long ground response times in off-highway vehicle areas and local mountains.
Denver Man Accused of Pointing Laser at Police Helicopter
A 26-year-old Colorado man was recently charged for aiming a laser three times at a Denver Police Department helicopter, Air One, over two days in April 2013. Officers onboard the helicopter were able to trace the source of the laser and apprehend the suspect with the help of ground troops.
The man was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond following his court appearance and is due back in court in late July. If convicted, he faces more than five years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine for each time the laser was pointed at the helicopter. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Obama to Issue Executive Order on UAS
President Obama is expected to sign an executive order tasking the U.S. Department of Commerce with developing privacy guidelines for the commercial use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the near future. While no exact timeline for the order has been set, it is expected to allow the department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration to bring together companies and consumer groups to develop a series of voluntary UAS best practices.
While more than a dozen states have put limits on how law enforcement can use UAS, often requiring a warrant and data deletion after a certain period of time, the latest regulatory process is not expected to address government UAS use. FAA remains responsible for airspace regulation, though Department of Commerce-developed best practices may find their way into operational aviation regulations. The executive order to the department is an effort to address the privacy issues many experts believe FAA has been slow to handle.
Canadian Aviation Officials Turning Attention to UAS Operations
Several recent incidents in which commercial aircraft have encountered unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have prompted Canadian officials to increasingly turn their attention to the operation of the aircraft. The increased focus comes at a time when U.S. officials continue to struggle to successfully integrate UAS into their skies.
Regulators in Canada have so far moved cautiously in allowing the widespread commercial use of UAS. But a review of Transport Canada records revealed there have been multiple potential conflicts over the past 12 months as UAS become more common in Canadian skies. In early July, controllers at Toronto Pearson International Airport were forced to change flight patterns at Canada's busiest airport to steer aircraft away from a UAS pilots had spied flying over north Toronto. Controllers at Vancouver International Airport were forced to shift operations at their busy airport in June after a UAS was spotted flying in the approach path to a runway.
AgustaWestland Introduces SW-4 Aircraft
AgustaWestland introduced the law enforcement community to its SW-4 light-single engine helicopter at the Airborne Public Safety Association annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ, in July. The SW-4 has a maximum takeoff weight of 3,968 pounds and is equipped with a three-blade main rotor and a two-blade tail rotor. The aircraft is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250 C20-R/2(SP) turboshaft engine.
The five-seat SW-4 is a competitively priced aircraft and features a fully customizable interior expected to meet the demands of law enforcement missions across the U.S. Key features include modern technology and sliding cabin doors. The aircraft is currently operating in Poland, China, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, and the Ukraine in support of utility, training, para-public and military missions.
EC135 Simulator Receives FAA Approval
Helicopter training services provider Metro Aviation recently received Level D certification for its EC135 Full Motion Simulator. The simulator, which was installed this spring, has already provided more than 120 hours of training time for Metro Aviation students. Although the simulator was certified at its previous location, FlightSafety International's DFW facility, Metro Aviation was required to receive FAA certification once again at its base in Shreveport, LA.
Metro Aviation customers began training in the simulator in July. In addition to aircraft-specific training, the simulator is used for honing IFR and NVG skills and allows for pilots to complete FAA-approved check rides.
SOURCE: Metro Aviation
Agencies Honored For Use Of Night Vision
Six units were honored during the Night Vision Awards presented at APSA EXPO 2014 in Phoenix, AZ, on July 17. â€œThe Night Vision Awards are something we look forward to every year,â€ said Alisha Allen, marketing director of co-sponsor Aviation Specialties Unlimited. â€œThe law enforcement community has been very receptive of the awards and endorsing NVG technology. It was great to award and recognize units who use them in lifesaving situations.â€
The Texas Department of Public Safety and Spokane County Sheriff's Office received the 5-Year Service Award. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and Orange County Sheriff's Office in Florida received the 10-Year Service Award. The Community Awareness Award was presented to the Tucson Police Air Support Unit and featured a story about the unit's rescue of two female hikers who were injured and found using a lighter.
SOURCE: Night Vision Awards
After Three-Day Search, UAS Quickly Finds Missing Man
David Lesh, who owns a ski and snowboard outerwear company based in Colorado, purchased an unmanned aerial system (UAS) to film aerial ski and snowboard videos. In late July, he used the UAS to find a missing 82-year-old man who had evaded discovery by police searches for three days.
After the three-day search, which included the use of a helicopter, search dogs and hundreds of volunteers, Lesh sent up his UAS to look at a 200-acre bean field from about 200 feet in the air. In 20 minutes, he had combed through most of the field, and in the final corner, Lesh noticed a man. According to officials, the 82-year-old thought he had been out on a short walk and didn't understand why people were looking for him. The man was in good spirits on the car ride back to the command center and was later determined to be in good physical condition, other than being dehydrated.
APSA Welcomes Its Newest Members
Tricia Angelini, New York State Police
Western Region Headed to Seattle for Safety
The 2014 Western Region Safety Seminar will be held in Seattle, WA, September 23-25. The event will be hosted by the King County Sheriff's Department and held at the Motif Seattle hotel.
The full educational agenda and registration information is available at www.alea.org/events. Information about how to book your discounted room and more is also available on the APSA website or by contacting APSA Western Region Director Steve Roussell at sroussell@PublicSafetyAviation.org. The hotel reservation deadline is Sept. 2.