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.
Airborne Thermal Imager Played Big Role in Bombing Manhunt
The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 killed three people and injured more than 200. A Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Aviation Command helicopter was able to spot the 19-year-old accused, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, using a thermal imaging camera during the manhunt. The thermal imager was able to pinpoint the location of bombing suspect inside a covered boat behind a residence.
The arrest on April 19 set off celebrations throughout Boston and has since shined a light on the role of thermal imagers in law enforcement searches. Cameras like FLIR's Star SAFIRE III are able to pick up the heat of a suspect, even when they are concealed. Andy Teich, President of FLIR's Commercial Systems Division, said, "We build these cameras to aid law enforcement, and we love to see when these systems are put to use in a manner that not only protects the officers, but significantly improves situational awareness."
A resident called police to report Tsarnaev might be hiding in his backyard. The suspect's location was narrowed to the covered boat. Teich said the MSP aircrew and the camera's ability to detect the heat from Tsarnaev's body through the cover on the boat was a key factor in finding him. You can watch MSP's video footage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX0eD25sM6Y.
MSP Aviation Command purchased the thermal imager in 2005 and upgraded all four of its systems in 2012 with a feature that keys into a target so that if the helicopter rotates, the user doesn't have to keep the system pointed on it. During his 29 years in the industry, Teich said that his was the first time he's seen thermal imaging play such a major role in locating a person.
Boston Police Chief Edward F. Davis said he wants to use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) at next year's Boston Marathon, calling them â€œa good idea.â€ Using a drone to pursue fleeing suspects like the Tsarnaev brothers would be legal under both state and federal law. But pre-emptively hovering drones over an event still makes many people uncomfortable. Lawmakers in Florida, Virginia and Idaho already prohibit that kind of drone surveillance at events, and more are debating it.
Enstrom Helicopter Plans Expansion Project
Enstrom Helicopter Corporation recently announced plans for expansion of its Menominee Michigan plant. Enstrom's expansion will double the current size of the facility, adding over 77,000 square feet. The expansion will also allow Enstrom to continue hiring. The company has added over 100 new employees within the past 18 months.
The expansion plans include installing new paint, gel coat and sand blast booths for component parts, as well as expanded manufacturing and flight line areas. A second floor mezzanine will be built to house the engineering department. The company plans to have a groundbreaking ceremony in May, with construction to begin shortly after the groundbreaking.
â€œWe're very excited about the expansion,â€ said President and CEO, Jerry Mullins. â€œWe're extremely happy to have an owner that is willing to invest in helping Enstrom grow. This is great for Enstrom and for the community. We appreciate the support the community has shown for this project.â€
SOURCE: Enstrom Helicopter Corporation
MSP Debuts New Aircraft in Frederick
Frederick County will become the first location where new police medevac helicopters of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command will debut. Training on the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters will begin June 1 and operations will start July 1, said Lt. Walter A. Kerr, helicopter operations commander.
The new aircraft will replace Maryland's aging fleet of 11 helicopters, 10 of which are now more than 20 years old. Six helicopters have been delivered and four are on the assembly line in Philadelphia.
The new AW139 helicopters contain the latest in avionics and safety equipment, including terrain awareness warning systems, night vision compatibility, cockpit voice and video recorders, radar altimeters, and advanced instrument flight rating capabilities, all recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a state government news release. Additionally, the new aircraft have satellite tracking and video downlink capabilities, as well as interoperable communication.
The most sacred responsibility that any government holds is to protect the lives of its citizens, Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement. That's why the state chose to invest in procuring the new state-of-the-art medevac helicopters to replace the current fleet. Replacing Maryland's aging medevac helicopter fleet is a $128 million program funded by the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Air Beat Conference Preview Issue Heading Your Way
The Conference Preview Issue of Air Beat will be delivered to your door in time to give you all the information you need to make APSA's 43rd Annual Conference & Exposition a success. Read it online now athttp://www.mydigitalpublication.com/publication?i=158458.
The show, to be held July 17-20 in Orlando, FL, will include a dynamic exhibition floor displaying the latest technology available to public safety aviation units and an extensive educational program. This issue of Air Beat will help you navigate the floor and plan your journey through the program, which includes a special presentation on the history of airborne law enforcement and multiple educational tracks. The tracks are Fixed-Wing Operations, Legal & Regulatory Issues, Night Operations, Helicopter Rescue Tactics & SAR, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Safety Management Systems, Patrol Tactics, Marketing, Grants, Budget & Finance, Unit Management, Aviation Training, Homeland Security & Special Ops, and Aviation Physiology.
This issue of Air Beat will also include information on the Pre-Conference Courses to be held July 15-17. The schedule, as well as registration and lodging information, can be found athttp://archives.alea.org/events/2013Conference now.
Baltimore's Four Police Helicopters to Stay Airborne
The Baltimore City Police Department Aviation Unit has reversed its decision to take one of its police helicopters out of service. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced in March the city would reduce its police aviation fleet from four helicopters to three, saving $1.2 million. But later that month, the mayor's staff said the city would keep its full complement of EC120B helicopters, known as the â€œFoxtrot Four.â€
The fleet was in jeopardy in 2010-2011 when Rawlings-Blake threatened to ground the entire fleet as a budget-cutting measure. The city later reversed course and purchased a new fleet at a cost of $9.5 million. After â€œa needs assessmentâ€ conducted by the Department of Finance, one of the new choppers came on the chopping block. But the helicopters are strongly supported by former police commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who said the aircraft are an essential asset to police on the ground.
Japan Fire Rescue Receives Unique New Helicopter
Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) has added to its fleet the world's first Eurocopter AS365 N3 helicopter equipped with a high-speed, real-time transmission system using Earth-orbiting relay satellites. The aircraft is expected to improve the agency's crisis response and coordination.
he new aircraft's Helicopter Satellite Communication System (HSA) enables direct transmission to satellites without interruption from a helicopter's moving rotor blades and relays data to ground receiving stations. The HSA-equipped AS365 N3 was delivered by Eurocopter in late March and was operational by early April. FDMA provides a wide range of services in dispatching and coordinating rescue team responses to disaster situations, and is part of Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
â€œHigh-speed and real-time transmission from airborne helicopters is now a realityâ€”available first to Japan, where the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake reaffirmed the importance of helicopters in disaster response and recovery coordination,â€ explained Stephane Ginoux, President/CEO of Eurocopter Japan.
Cover Contest; Last Chance to Win a Free iPad
Air Beat magazine and APSA are making it even more rewarding to take photos of your agency's aircraft, personnel or missions. Enter Air Beat magazine's cover photo contest now and you could receive a new Apple iPad. Just send us three of your best public safety aviation photos, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a free iPad and to have your photo appear on the cover of an upcoming issue of Air Beat.
The entry period is open only until the end of this month, May 31. The contest winner will be announced at the General Membership Meeting during the 43rd Annual Conference & Exposition in Orlando, FL on July 18, 2013. For submission and eligibility details, please click here.http://archives.alea.org/public/airbeat/contest/default.aspx.
Missouri Man Gets Probation for Aiming Laser
A 36-year-old Missouri man was sentenced in mid-April to two years of probation and two months of house arrest for aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter. The man pleaded guilty to felony charges in November.
On May 18, 2012, a Metro St. Louis Air Support Unit police helicopter was responding to a burglary report at a school. The aircraft was struck several times by a green laser beam. Federal prosecutors say that when the beam struck the glass of the helicopter, the vision of the pilot was impacted, and the helicopter had to pull away from the search.
The helicopter flew toward the direction of the laser beam and determined from where it came. The pilot and the tactical flight officer saw the suspect standing in his driveway with the pointer. Police were dispatched, arrested the suspect and seized the laser pointer. The man told authorities he had been drinking and playing with the pointer. The police observer in the helicopter had short-term visual problems as a result of the laser strike.
The Federal Aviation Administration said there were 3,482 laser pointer incidents involving aircraft in the U.S. in 2012, up from fewer than 300 incidents in 2005.
Delaware State Police Orders Two Bell 429s
The Delaware State Police Aviation Section has entered into an agreement with Bell Helicopter to purchase two Bell 429 aircraft. The multi-mission configured Bell 429s will be utilized for both airborne law enforcement operations and helicopter emergency medical services.
â€œFor the mission and operations for the Delaware State Police, we evaluated all helicopter options in the light-twin category, as well as multiple medium-twin options,â€ said Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr., Delaware State Police superintendent. â€œAfter careful consideration, the selection team chose the Bell 429 as the best combination of speed, power, performance and working volume to meet our mission needs.â€
The new Bell 429s, configured to perform airborne law enforcement missions including patrol, surveillance and search and rescue, as well as emergency medical services (EMS), will be delivered in early 2014. The two aircraft will join an aviation unit consisting of 25 pilots and medics providing 24-hour coverage from two locations, Georgetown and Middletown.
SOURCE: Bell Helicopter
Commission Criticizes Kenya Police Air Wing
The Kenya Police Air Wing (KPWA) has come under considerable fire in the wake of a helicopter crash that killed the nation's former Internal Security Minister George Saitoti. In addition to bad weather, overloading and pilot inexperience, the commission found KPWA directly responsible for the accident.
The commission said on April 20 that investigations into the accident were insufficient and criticized the purchase of the aircraft, as the procurement team disregarded advice from Internal Security to use a pre-qualified vendor list. The commission suggested the decision to purchase the aircraft was made before the procurement process began. KPWA was also criticized for inadequate maintenance of its aircraft and a â€œpoor safety culture.â€
Other shortcomings of the KPAW included lack of major components required in a modern air operator, absence of oversight by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and lack of an aircraft maintenance organization or internal safety mechanisms.
â€œThis has led to the operational and airworthiness shortcomings that the commission observed in respect of the said aircraft,â€ the report read. â€œThere is a clear sense of a poor safety culture at KPAW. This obviously has implications on air safety and the scarce national resources.â€
West Michigan Gets Dedicated Chopper Patrol
West Michigan police agencies will now be assisted by regular aerial patrols. A Michigan State Police Aviation Section helicopter began monitoring Grand Rapids and surrounding communities April 1, according to First Lieutenant Chris McIntire, the commander of the Michigan State Police's Rockford location.
McIntire said MSP decided to use the helicopters to curb violent crime. A spike in violent crime at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 drove the decision. "It's a state police priority for us to do what we can and give all the resources we can to the area," McIntire said about the West Michigan helicopter patrols. "Western Michigan is one of those areas right now with [high] crime. We felt it a benefit to bring our Aviation Section over here."
The regular patrols will continue through June under the current plan, and McIntire expects them to be extended. Before the state police decided to shift resources, helicopters flew over West Michigan only when requested or during special operations, such as searches for marijuana grows. The helicopter now will assist with traffic stops, car chases, searches for suspects and missing people, drug enforcement and rescues.
Did You Know?
Did you know that you can become a certified Thermographer orÂ renew your IA orÂ CFI ratings at the APSA annual conference?Â That's right, we offer this and more during our Pre-Conference Courses.Â The Airborne Thermographer Certification Course, sponsored by FLIR Systems, focuses on the technical aspect of FLIR, theory, aircraft positioning,Â FLIR tactics, downlink technology and legal issues.Â Successful completion of this 3-day course earns you certification as a Thermographer from FLIR Systems.Â The 3-day, Bell Training Academy-sponsoredÂ Flight Instructor Refresher - Train-the-Trainer Course is geared towards renewing your CFI certificate under FAR Part 61, while enhancing your knowledge and skill with the latest developments in standardization, regulations, and helicopter flight techniques.Â For our maintenance technicians,Â the 1-dayÂ Maintenance IA Renewal Course meets the 8-hour FAA requirement for IA renewal.Â And, the price isÂ right.Â Â APSA offers this course at no charge to our aircraft mechanic members.Â Register for any of theseÂ courses under the 43rd Annual Conference & Exposition link on our website, www.alea.org.
Park Police Hoist Boater to Safety on Potomac
A U.S. Park Police helicopter hoisted a boater to safety after his boat had overturned in whitewater in late March. The helicopter, along with Montgomery County Fire/Rescue Service, was called into action when the boater was reported to be stranded on a rock in the Potomac River.
A U. S. Park Police Aviation Unit crew approached the scene first and spotted the victim. According to authorities, it would have been difficult to navigate a rescue boat through the nearby whitewater and shallow rocks.
U. S. Park Police and Montgomery County officers hoisted the victim to safety and flew him to a nearby golf course, where he was assessed by EMTs. Video of the rescue can be seen athttp://www.nbcwashington.com/video/#!/news/local/Raw-Video--Potomac-River-Rescue/200782371.
Ventura County Sheriff to Evaluate UAS in SAR Missions
The Ventura County (CA) Sheriff's Office has applied for an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) to allow training flights of an unmanned aerial system (UAS). The COA would allow limited operation within a restricted, unpopulated area for training and evaluation purposes. The evaluations will take place in conjunction with the department's Search and Rescue Division, the Ventura County Fire Department and other public safety agencies.
While actual flights may still be several months away, the Sheriff's Office says the ultimate goal is to use the small UAS for critical life-saving efforts, such as locating missing persons and monitoring hazardous conditions. The department is testing a UAS known as the Qube, which operates with four small rotors and can stay aloft for a maximum of 40 minutes on a single charge. It has a built-in camera system.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Office operates four Bell Huey helicopters for a variety of public safety purposes.
California Man Accused of Shining Laser at Police Helicopter
The Azusa Police Department arrested a man in early April for repeatedly pointing a laser at a police helicopter. The El Monte (CA) Police Region One Air Support police helicopter, on an unrelated call, was assisting the department when the laser strikes occurred.
The officers onboard maneuvered away from the beam and ordered the person via loudspeaker to stop shining the laser, but the person continued. The airborne officers were able to determine from where the beam originated, and officers on the ground located and arrested a 20-year-old man who was in possession of a laser. The man was booked on suspicion of discharging the laser at the aircraft
The officers on the helicopter were unharmed but endangered, police said. In addition to being a violation of California law, legislation passed in 2012 makes it a federal offense to shine a laser at an aircraft.
Aviation Unit Assists in Arrest of Weapons, Drugs Suspects
The Monticello (NY) Police Department called on assistance from the New York State Police Aviation Unit to search a residence suspected of containing illegal weapons and drugs in late April. As a result of the search, a father and his two sons were arrested and charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degrees, three counts of misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, conspiracy in the fifth degree, growing cannabis, criminally using drug paraphernalia, unlawfully dealing with fireworks and unlawful possession of marijuana.
After the Aviation Unit assisted with surveillance of the residence, ground officers recovered four rifles, five shotguns, a sawed-down shotgun, three handguns guns, ammunition, marijuana plants, unlawfully possessed fireworks and various drug paraphernalia.
Houston Police Contracts Out Bell Maintenance Services
The Houston (TX) Police Department Air Support Division has contracted with Uniflight LLC to to provide parts support for its Bell helicopter. The contract is for one base year and two additional option years and will cover parts for the 412 operated by the department.
HPD Air Support Division is one of the largest municipal aviation units in the country. The unit operates 12 helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft. Uniflight LLC is headquartered in Grand Prairie, TX, and provides maintenance, repair, overhaul, aircraft program management and completions for both helicopter and fixed-wing operators.
Bell Launches Safety Series in India
Bell Helicopter announced it is launching a safety symposium series for rotorcraft pilots and technicians in India. â€œThe growth of Bell Helicopter's customer base in India, coupled with the region's environmental conditions, make India a prime location for hosting this inaugural event,â€ said B.S. Shingh Deo, Managing Director, Business Development at Bell Helicopter India.
A new initiative for Bell Helicopter in 2013, the safety symposium educates maintainers and operators on key safety practices and applications to implement into their daily operations. The effort is tied in part to Bell Helicopter's participation in the International Helicopter Safety Team's mission to achieve an 80 percent reduction in the rate of international civil helicopter accidents by 2016. Initiated at the customers' request, the safety symposium is led by instructors from the Bell Helicopter Training Academy. More than 80 participants from 25 organizations have registered to attend the event in India.
SOURCE: Bell Helicopter
Public Safety Guidance on UAS Operations Workshop Next Month
Unmanned aircraft systems have the potential to support the public safety mission in a cost-effective manner. Getting a program airborne, however, requires a working knowledge of the many issues that a public safety agency must address prior to actually flying a mission. The â€œPublic Safety Guidance on UAS Operationsâ€ workshop to be held Jun 11-13, 2013 in Annapolis, MD will provide information that public safety agencies need to know so that they can determine if there is a role for this technology to support their specific public safety mission. This workshop will address UAS issues such as rules and regulations regarding UAS, federal evaluation programs, privacy and working with the public, operational consideration, lessons learned and best UAS practices.
There will be time for questions and answers and the ability to meet face to face with the agencies and individuals who are working the issues involved with the operational use of UAS. Registration is free but is restricted to 300 attendees with 50 seats allocated for academia. The criterion for public safety registration is: law enforcement, fire, rescue, emergency management and employees of publicly owned/operated emergency medical service providers. A phone number will be required for employment verification.