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.
Six UAS Research & Test Sites Named
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the selection of the six public entities that will develop unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test sites around the country last month. The locations include the University of Alaska, State of Nevada, New York Griffiss International airport, Department of Commerce of North Dakota, Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and Virginia Tech Polytechnic Institute.
These congressionally mandated test sites will conduct critical research into the certification and operational requirements necessary to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace over the next several years. "Across the six applicants, the FAA is confident that the agency's research goals of System Safety & Data Gathering, Aircraft Certification, Command & Control Link Issues, Control Station Layout & Certification, Ground & Airborne Sense & Avoid, and Environmental Impacts will be met" the agency said in a statement.
"Safety continues to be our first priority as we move forward with integrating unmanned aircraft systems into U.S. airspace," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We have successfully brought new technology into the nation's aviation system for more than 50 years, and I have no doubt we will do the same with unmanned aircraft." Huerta said the first site is to be operational within 180 days, with the rest to be online as quickly as possible.
"In designating the first UAS test sites in these states, the FAA has taken an important step toward recognizing the incredible economic and job creation potential this technology brings. AUVSI's economic report projects that the expansion of UAS technology will create more than 100,000 jobs nationwide and generate more than $82 billion in economic impact in the first decade following integration," said Michael Toscano, president & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
SOURCE: FAA and AUVSI
California Jury Convicts Couple for Shining Laser at Helicopter
A federal jury found a young couple guilty of aiming a laser pointer at a Fresno (CA) Police Department helicopter and attempting to interfere with its operation. According to evidence presented in the late-December trial, the couple used a high-powered green laser pointer to repeatedly strike the cockpit of the aircraft last summer.
The helicopter had responded to the apartment complex where the couple resided to investigate the report of laser strikes on an emergency transport helicopter for Children's Hospital of Central California. The crewmembers of both helicopters testified the laser strikes caused significant visual interference.
The man faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for attempting to interfere with the operation of the aircraft. Both suspects face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for aiming a laser pointer at a helicopter.
Harford County Sheriff's Office Adds Helicopter
The Harford County (MD) Sheriff's Office has acquired a Bell OH-58 from the U.S. Department of Defense. Police said they hope the aircraft will assist in search and rescue, airborne surveillance and marijuana eradication. The Harford County Sheriff's Office acquired the helicopter at no cost through the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the secretary of defense to transfer surplus equipment to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for homeland security.
"We are tracking more criminals, risking lives and officers' safety in the process," Sheriff Jesse Bane said. "Our farmlands and forests are fertile for growing marijuana, and we have critical infrastructure." Bane said two deputies are already trained to use the helicopter and announced the creation of an aviation unit that will be a part-time obligation deployed on an as-needed basis. Bane said he estimated the helicopter would be used for 25 flights a year and that the operating cost would be $125,000 a year, borne primarily by drug seizures.
UAS Surveillance to Be Used at Sochi Winter Olympic Games
Reports indicate Russia will use extensive unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) surveillance during next month's Sochi Winter Olympic Games. UAS are expected to be positioned over stadiums, roads and railroads, transmitting images live to Russian security services.
"There will be 24-hour UAS surveillance," said Nikita Zakharov, the deputy director of Zala Aero, a company that has provided UAS and training to Russian police. Police in Sochi already are using Zala Aero's UAS to catch traffic violators and pinpoint illicit marijuana crops in cornfields. UAS have also been supplied to Russia's border service, a subsidiary of the Federal Security Service that patrols the mountains bordering Georgia's rebel region of Abkhazia.
Public Safety Aviation Veteran Kevin Means Flies Last Mission
Veteran San Diego (CA) Police Department Air Support Unit pilot Kevin Means flew his last mission last month. For more than two decades, Means flew with the department's helicopter unit and logged around 15,000 hours in the air while guiding officers on the ground. Means was the longest serving pilot and TFO on the force.
Originally from Spokane, WA, 54-year-old Means said he knew he wanted to be a pilot and a police officer at an early age. He was licensed as a pilot at 17 and joined the Navy out of high school, serving for four years as an anti-submarine warfare operator and helicopter rescue crewman assigned to Naval Air Station North Island.
Means joined the San Diego Police Department in 1982, with early assignments that included patrol, the border crime task force, the district attorney's office violent crime unit, the gang unit and narcotics division. In 1989, the supervisor of the newly created air support unit asked Means if wanted to join the crew. After a few ride alongs, he realized the potential of policing from a helicopter.
Means is an APSA member, a former APSA Board member, served as APSA president, and has been a longtime APSA instructor. He was also the first president of the Airborne Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, now known as the Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission (PSAAC), that developed industry standards and best practices for new and existing airborne law enforcement units in the US and Canada.
Sheriff's Office Hosts Day To Enhance Safety and Networking
The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office recently hosted a training day for their regional emergency response helicopter units. The focus of the training was on safety and maintenance. It was also an opportunity for the neighboring air units to get to know each other, network and collaborate. The agencies participating were Santa Clara Sheriff's Office, Oakland Police Department, Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, San Jose Police Department, CALSTAR, Sacramento County Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol.
"Air Support plays a vital role in our mission of public safety," said Assistant Sheriff Mark Williams who spoke at the event. "Your mission is crucial in our efforts to provide efficient and responsive patient transports, suppress fires, protect our critical infrastructures, support our search and rescue operations, and provide top cover for our men and women on the ground."
Glasgow Helicopter Crash Investigation: No Evidence of Engine Failure
An investigation into the fatal police helicopter crash in Glasgow, now known to have killed 10 on Nov. 29, has found no evidence of a major mechanical failure. An interim report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has revealed at least one of the helicopter's two engines was in full working order moments before it crashed.
Aviation experts believed a major failure of the aircraft's gearbox transmission system was to blame after a number of witnesses reported hearing its rotors misfiring and stuttering, but AAIB said it had not yet found anything to establish why the helicopter crashed. AAIB confirmed that none of the EC135's blades were turning when it fell.
The AAIB investigation, which also involves investigators from Germany, France, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority, is expected to take several months.
Nassau County Aviation Helps Rescue Stranded Hunters
A Nassau County (NY) Police Department helicopter recently helped find and rescue four male duck hunters who were in a boat near the marshes of Hewlett Harbor when it overturned on Christmas day. Members of the Nassau County Police Department Marine Bureau and Nassau County Police Department Aviation Unit responded and were able to direct civilian vessels to where the victims were in the water.
The duck hunters' weapons were also recovered and secured, and the marine bureau towed their boat. The four men were transported to an area hospital and treated for hypothermia.
Sao Paulo Orders GrandNew Helicopter
Brazil's State of Sao Paulo has placed an order for a GrandNew light-twin helicopter. The aircraft, produced by AgustaWestland, will be operated by the state's military police for airborne surveillance missions and environmental and forest patrols. It is expected to be delivered this year.
The State of San Paulo Forest Conservation identified the GrandNew as the best platform for its missions. The contract marks the first order by the Sao Paulo government for an AgustaWestland helicopter and adds another GrandNew in a law enforcement configuration to Brazil's fleet, following an order for one of the same type by the State of Rio de Janeiro. The GrandNew includes digital avionics for single/dual pilot instrument flight rules operation, a four-axis dual duplex digital autopilot, the Chelton Flight Systems' Flight-Logic Electronic Flight Instrument System, Synthetic Vision and Highway In the Sky. The contract also includes a comprehensive logistic support and maintenance package supplied by AgustaWestland.
SOURCE: Agusta Westland
Kentucky Agency Finds Missing Girl With FLIR Help
The Lexington (KY) Police Department Air Support Unit's helicopter helped to locate a missing girl last month. Neighboring Mercer County Sheriff's Department called Lexington Police to help search for a 15-year-old girl after she had gotten into an argument with her mother and ran into a wooded area in the county.
The Air Support Unit was asked to help with the search because Lexington Police Department is the only public safety agency in Central Kentucky with a thermal imaging system.
The unit helped find the girl near a creek within 20 minutes of police flying over the area. The girl had been in the woods for about three hours and was wearing only a T-shirt and shorts when she was found. She was treated at the scene and taken to a local hospital.
London Man Arrested for Shining Laser at Police Helicopter
A man has been arrested for shining a laser pen at a police helicopter in southeast London in early December. The 46-year-old was arrested after the helicopter crew used video equipment to trace the source of the beam. The crew then directed police officers on the ground to the man's address, from which a laser pen was recovered.
The man was taken to a south London police station, where he admitted the offense and was given a caution for endangering the safety of an aircraft. The incident came amid speculation that the Nov. 29 helicopter disaster in Glasgow could have been caused by a similar incident.
Airbus Helicopters Delivers Second Aircraft to Dalian Police
Airbus Helicopters has delivered a second EC155 B1 to China's Dalian Municipality. The helicopter will be used by the police department for a range of missions, including surveillance, rescue, anti-terrorism operations and firefighting.
"With its fleet of two EC155 B1s, the Dalian Police now has a highly capable airborne law enforcement capability that fully responds to the heli-borne security, protection and airlift requirements of this dynamic region in China," said Norbert Ducrot, CEO of Airbus Helicopters China. About 25 Airbus Helicopter EC155s are based in Hong Kong and China, with private and para-public operators including the police forces in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dalian.
Helicopter Crew Saves Stranded Chesapeake Bay Boaters
A Maryland State Police helicopter crew took part in rescuing two people on a boat in Chesapeake Bay off the coast of Dorchester County in late November. The three-man crew based at the St. Mary's airport was dispatched to the scene, where the boat was stranded on a sandbar, and found the boat with two occupants located near the shoreline.
A Dorchester County Fire Department's rescue boat was unable to gain access to the occupants because of a low tide, so the helicopter engaged in a hoisting operation. The occupants were hoisted to the shore one-by-one, where emergency medical services personnel completed further assessments for possible injuries. Both occupants declined further medical care.
UAS Use Growing in Latin America
A number of Latin American municipal police departments and government authorities have recently begun exploring the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The Mexico City Public Security Secretariat began testing UAS intended to supervise street demonstrations last October. In February, a municipality in Argentina outside Buenos Aires began using the devices to track and film criminal acts and natural disasters, and the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police is developing its own UAS.
Tijuana authorities monitor traffic, evaluate accident scenes, detect landslides and control wildfires using the aircraft. The city's mayor, Jorge Astiazarán, said he's preparing to buy several UAS for the city, making Tijuana one of the first municipal governments in Mexico to use UAS.
In November, the 10 member states of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) agreed to join together to develop a new UAS capable of flying 13 hours uninterrupted. Meanwhile, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Argentina are said to be developing proprietary UAS.
Helicopter Rescues Cliff Jumping Teen
A rescue helicopter operated by the Tasmania Police was used to help rescue a teenager injured after jumping from a cliff in early December. The 18-year-old reportedly was cliff jumping with friends when he landed awkwardly. He was dragged to the foot of the cliff, where a paramedic was lowered from the helicopter to treat him for a back injury. The teenager was treated at the scene before being transported by boat to an ambulance. His condition was stabilized shortly after he arrived at a nearby hospital.
Helicopter Flight Training Center Now Offers AS350 Simulator
The Helicopter Flight Training Center in Shreveport, LA, has completed the certification of its first simulator, an AS350 FlightSafety device with NVG-capability. The Federal Aviation Administration recently completed a review of the training facility (operated by Metro Aviation) and cleared it to begin recurrent training in the simulator.
This simulator is available for lease, and the facility reports customers are in line to take advantage. The AS350 simulator is the first of many to arrive at the Helicopter Flight Training Center, which also offers maintenance and engine training out of its 24,000 square foot facility.
SOURCE: Helicopter Flight Training Center
Missing College Student Rescued By Helo Crew
A Los Angeles County (CA) Sheriff's Department search and rescue team rescued a 19-year-old woman who went missing while hiking in early December. The woman was located and airlifted to safety via helicopter after a member of the rescue team was lowered by cable to where she was stranded. The helicopter flew to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where the victim was seen walking unassisted after disembarking.
In response to reports the girl had gone missing, officials from the sheriff's department's Altadena Station, along with search and rescue teams from Montrose and Sierra Madre, combed an area in Eaton Canyon, where the woman had been known to spend time.
Southeast Regional Safety Seminar Rapidly Approaching
Only a few weeks remain before the Georgia State Patrol hosts the first APSA Safety Seminar of the year from Jan. 28 to 30 in Jekyll Island, GA. Watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he5-WzPwVPo to see more about the Southeast Regional Safety Seminar to be held at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. APSA will offer water survival/egress training in addition to a full slate of educational events and networking opportunities. View the agenda at https://www.alea.org/Areas/events/handlers/file.ashx?f=(dir)/141/14SE+-+Educational+Agenda+122913.pdf.
Register today at https://www.alea.org/events/register.aspx?i=141&g=167. You may also contact APSA Southeast Region Director David Gee at dgee@PublicSafetyAviation.org for more information on the event.
SOURCE: Airborne Law Enforcement Assocication