The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Air Services Branch provides a number of services for the RCMP as well as the Canadian general public. Air Services is responsible for providing operational standards for aircraft and pilots in Canada. These services include pilot development and certification; maintenance and safety programs; air support and assistance; and air surveillance systems.
Duties of the Air Service Branch include northern and regional patrols; transporting personnel, prisoners, and supplies; and undertaking aerial searches.
The idea of a RCMP Air Services Branch was thought of as early as 1919. In that year, Commissioner Perry suggested that patrolling Canadian coastal waters and establishing faster communications with remote northern portions of Canada would more easily be undertaken with the aid of a permanent Police Air Service.
However, it wasn’t until 1932, that the idea of a Police Air Service became a reality. In this year, the RCMP obtained the aid of several RCAF planes to assist in anti-rum running cases along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Unfortunately, this relationship dissolved soon after.
By 1937, the RCMP had purchased their own aircraft: four de Havilland Dragonflies. In 1938, a Noorduyn Norseman was added to the Dragonflies. With the call of WWII, the Dragonflies were given to the war effort. The Norseman also continued to be used throughout the war to destroy gasoline caches throughout the arctic, eliminating the threat of invasion by enemy U-Boats and aircraft.
After 1946, more aircraft and personnel were acquired by RCMP Air Services. Two Beech 18s and a Grumman Goose were quickly added to the fleet. Beechcraft were top of the line, faster than the airlines of the day. The Goose was used as a mobile detachment undertaking patrols from coast to coast.
In 1947, a Stinson 108 was added to the fleet. This craft, capable of flying on wheels, skis, or floats, was used to transport prisoners and personnel in addition to its use as a search vessel. Over the next few years, two de Havilland Beavers and a de Havilland Otter were added to the fleet. These aircraft focused on both coastal and remote northern activities.
The turbine era brought several new acquisitions to the RCMP Air Services Branch in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The first was a Beechcraft A90. The second was a Turbo Beaver. Soon after, ten Twin Otters were acquired. Then, in 1971, Air Services acquired its first helicopter, a Bell 212. Today, the RCMP Air Services Branch has personnel in ten divisions coast to coast. Air Services personnel log more than 23,000 flying hours per year. Current aircraft include Bell Long Range Helicopters, Eurocopters, Twin Otters, and the Pilatus PC-12.
||RNWMP Commissioner recommends air police service using surplus WW1 aircraft. Not accepted.
||Royal NorthWest Mounted Police renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
||Sergeant H. Thorne becomes the first serving officer to fly while on duty – in a Junkers of Imperial Oil
||RCMP borrows several RCAF aircraft to assist in anti-rum running coastal patrols
||Loan of RCAF aircraft discontinued
|1 April 1937
||RCMP Air Section established. First aircraft acquired – 4 D.H. Dragonflies
|22 May 1937
||First official patrol by an RCMP aircraft
||RCMP aircraft and air personnel transferred to RCAF service
||RCMP Air Division re-established
||RCMP aircraft fleet comprises 9 aircraft
||First turboprop aircraft acquired – a Beech King Air A90
||First helicopter acquired – a Bell 212
||RCMP Air Division re-organised into the RCMP Air Services Directorate
||First jet aircraft acquired – a Cessna Citation
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the Canadian national police service and an agency of the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. The RCMP is unique in the world since it is a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body. It provides a policing service to all Canadians and policing services under contract to the three territories and to eight provinces (except Ontario and Quebec).
The main task of Air Services is to provide air support and assistance to operational personnel. This includes northern and regional patrols; transporting personnel, prisoners and supplies; and carrying out searches for personnel and vehicles.
No new procurement plans known.
PC-12/45 C-GMPZ at Trois-Rivieres Airport, 18 June 2003.
(photo, Jean-Luc Poliquin)
Aircraft Serial Numbers
Initially, all RCMP aircraft carried civilian registrations in a sequence specially allocated to the RCMP. Prior to 1st January 1974, this sequence was CF-MPA to CF-MPZ. For example, DHC-2 Beaver CF-MPM. From January 1974 the prefix for Canada was changed from CF- to C-F and C-G, so the existing RCMP sequence became C-FMPA to C-FMPZ. All aircraft then in service subsequently had their registrations amended. With the continuing expansion of Air Services, a parallel registration sequence of C-GMPA to C-GMPZ was introduced at this time. Since the 1980s, increasing use of registrations outside this sequence has taken place, eg: P.180 Avant C-GFOX. However, the C-Fxxx and C-Gxxx sequences are both still used, with letter allocations being re-used as older aircraft are withdrawn and new aircraft are acquired.
Coding system not used
None – Manufacturers designations used.
Current Aircraft Inventory
Table of Current Service Aircraft
All-Time Aircraft Used List
All-Time Table of Aircraft Used
Aircraft NOT Used
Reports in 2003 of an order for 12 Diamond DA42 TwinStar MPP aircraft for border patrol work proved to be false.
RCMP Headquarters, 1200 Vanier Parkway, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R2.
The RCMP is divided into 15 Divisions, plus Headquarters, Ottawa. Each Division is managed by a Commanding Officer and is alphabetically designated. Divisions roughly approximate provincial boundaries with their headquarters located in respective provincial or territorial capitals (except “National Division”, Ottawa; “C”, Montreal; “O” London; and “E”, Vancouver). Air Services provides support direct to the Divisions.
In 1996 the Divisions were organised into four Regions – Atlantic, Central, Northwestern and Pacific. Within each Region were between 2 and 5 Divisions. At some subsequent date this changed, as the Divisions are now organised into a simple East – West split, with 7 Divisions and the National Headquarters in the East, and 8 Divisions in the West.
Each Division normally has one detachment from the Air Services Branch, called an ‘Air Section’, centred on the major city or town in the area, although Saskatchewan has two, British Columbia five and Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have none. There are 20 Air Sections, designated numerically, e.g. Air Section 16. It is not at all clear what the match-up between Division letters and Air Section numbers is.
Current Unit Assignments
Air Services Branch
Historical Unit Assignments
All-Time Flying Units List
To be added.
Current Air Bases
See current unit assignments above.
All-Time Air Bases Used List
The Dragonflies operated from Toronto, Ontario from 1937. By 1953 air bases included St. John’s, Newfoundland and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, together with a new detachment at Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories. In the 1970s Air Division Detachments stretched across southern Canada from St. John’s, NF to Victoria, BC. In the north bases were at Whitehorse, Inuvik, Yellowknife and Frobisher Bay.
Apart from the bases listed in the ‘unit assignments’ above, RCMP Air Services also flies into numerous small community airfields throughout Canada. Too many to list here!
Canadian Aviation Bibliography
to be added
Official RCMP website
Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame – RCMP
RCMP History Module III
RCMP FLEET LIST 1937 to Present
ALEA Unit Photographs: RCMP
RCMP Flight Operations Program Evaluation
Additional information by T. R. Brady