Australian Police Aviation Units

Operators Overview

History

Narrative Summary

The huge size of Australia and the low population density mean that travel between major towns can be very time consuming. The use of aircraft can vastly reduce the time required to reach a given destination. Shortly after World War II, the New South Police obtained an Avro Anson from the RAAF and set up an Aviation Branch. At this time the cost-effectiveness benefits of Police aircraft were inconclusive and the unit was closed down in 1950.

In 1974 the Western Australia Police established the first modern Police Air Wing in Australia, initially using leased fixed-wing aircraft and later buying its own aircraft. Several other Australian states followed suit in the 1970s, and by 1979 all the states had established a Police Air Wing. All of these units operated fixed-wing aircraft, normally based close to the state capital. In 1979, Victoria replaced its fixed-wing aircraft with a helicopter, becoming the first Police helicopter operator in Australia. It remains the only all-helicopter Police Air Wing in the country.

Key Dates

1946 New South Wales Police begins operation of the first police aircraft in Australia.
1974 Western Australia Police establish the first modern Police Air Wing in Australia.
1979 First police helicopter introduced – by Victoria Police.

Current Status

There is currently a Police Air Wing in each state, plus the capital territory.

Future Plans

See individual operators.

Markings

Special Markings

Australian Police aircraft operate in a wide variety of markings – usually some variety of blue and white overall. Most carry POLICE service titles – except for Queensland, which does not.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Australian Police aircraft and helicopters carry standard Australian civil aircraft registrations.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

See individual operators.

All-Time Aircraft Used List

See individual operators.

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

To be added.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Each of the five Australian states has its own Police Air Wing, administered and funded by the state government. The Tasmania Police share use of Tasmanian EMS helicopters and don’t have a separate police air wing. In addition, the Federal Government in Canberra has the Australian Federal Police, which operates in the Australian Capital Territory, nationwide and internationally.

Organisational Structure

Each Air Wing has its own organisational structure.

Current Unit Assignments

Table of Current Unit Assignments

Historical Unit Assignments

To be added.

All-Time Flying Units List

Units Listing

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

See unit assignments.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

To be added.

More Information

Books

None known

Magazines

To be added

Websites

Helis.com: Australia

Any photographs illustrating these operators would be welcome.

 

Current Unit Assignments

of Australian Police Air Wings
Unit Type Base
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Australian Federal Police
Bell 412, GippsAero GA8 Airvan Canberra
Queensland (QLD)
Queensland Police Air Wing
Beech 1900D, Cessna 208 Caravan, Cessna 560, Bell 206L Brisbane
Bell 206L Cairns
Cessna 208 Caravan Mount Isa
New South Wales (NSW)
New South Wales Police Air Wing
AS350, AS355, Bell 412, Cessna 206, Cessna 208, EC135 Bankstown, Sydney
Northern Territory (NT)
Northern Territory Police Air Wing
Pilatus PC-12/PC-12NG Darwin IAP
Pilatus PC-12 Alice Springs
South Australia (SA)
South Australia Police Air Wing
MAC EC120 (loaned) Adelaide
Victoria (VIC)
Victoria Police Air Wing
AS365, EC135 Essendon, Melbourne
Western Australia (WA)
Western Australian Police Air Wing
AS365N, Cessna 182, GippsAero GA8 Airvan, Jandakot, Perth
Pilatus PC-12, MBB BK117 Karratha

All-Time Units Listing

of Australian Police Air Wings

This page lists all the Australian Police Aviation Units.

Australian Federal Police
New South Wales Police Air Wing
Northern Territory Police Air Wing
Queensland Police Air Wing
South Australia Police Air Wing
Victoria Police Air Wing
Western Australia Police Air Wing

Queensland Police Air Wing

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

The Queensland Police Service was first establsiehd in 1864. Air operations began unofficially in 1956, when a Police Officer stationed at Camooweal flew his own Tiger Moth, to assist with Police work. The official Police Air Wing was launched in 1975 with two aircraft, but was closed down in 1983. The Air Wing was reformed in 1985, staffed by civilian pilots. Helicopter operations began in 2012. In the same year a review of the use of Queensland Government aviation assets was initiated. On 1 November 2013, the Emergency Management Queensland Helicopter Rescue (EMQHR), Police Air Wing and Government Air Wing were merged into a new Queensland Government air service, called QG Air.

Key Dates

1 January 1864 Queensland Police Service first established.
1956 Unofficial use of aircraft begins.
October 1975 Police Air Wing becomes operational.
1983 Police Air Wing closed down.
1985 Police Air Wing re-established.
2012 First helicopter delivered – a Bell 206L LongRanger.
1 November 2013 Police Air Wing becomes part of unified QG Air organisation.

Current Status

The aircraft of the QPAW are fully operational.

Future Plans

No plans known.

Markings

Special Markings

QPAW aircraft operate in an overall white colour scheme with a red and grey fuselage cheatline. The flag of Queensland is carried on the fin. No service titles are displayed.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Aircraft operating with the QPAW initially carried standard Australian civil aircraft registrations in no special sequence, e.g. Cessna 180 VH-PFT, but more recent aircraft have VH-PSx registrations.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Beech 1900D 1 1 0 Policing
Bell 206L LongRanger 2 2 0 Policing
Cessna 208 Caravan 2 2 0 Policing
Cessna 560 Citation Ultra 1 1 0 Policing

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Beech 1900D 1 1985 current USA
Bell 206L LongRanger 2 2012 current USA
Cessna 180E 2 1975 1983 Australian Army
Cessna 208 Caravan 2 1985 current USA
Cessna 560 Citation Ultra 1 1985 current USA

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

No losses known.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Queensland Police Air Wing, Brisbane Airport, Government Hanger, Adjacent To Qantas Maintenance Hanger 1, BRISBANE, Queensland, 4000, Australia. (Note that the morons who registered this address can’t spell ‘Hangar’ correctly).

Organisational Structure

The air wing has no subordinate units.

Current Unit Assignments

No subordinate units.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

QPAW aircraft are based at Brisbane, Cairns and Mount Isa.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

When first established in 1975 the Air Wing was based at Archerfield Airport, but moved to Brisbane Airport in 1980.


More Information

Books

None known.

Magazines

To be added

Websites

wikipedia: Queensland Police Service
Qld Police Service
Qld Police Air Wing
QG Air

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.

 

Western Australia Police Air Wing

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

The Western Australia Police was first established in 1834. The Air Wing commenced operations in 1974, using a hired Piper Tri-Pacer. A Cessna 182 was later purchased as a replacement. In 1982 the first twin-engined aircraft was obtained. Helicopter operations began in December 1989 using a chartered Bell 206L Long Ranger.

Key Dates

1 January 1834 Western Australia Police first established.
1974 Air Wing formed using leased aircraft.
December 1989 Start of helicopter operations.

Current Status

The aircraft of the WAPAW are fully operational.

Future Plans

No plans known.

Markings

Special Markings

WAPAW helicopters operate in a blue and white colour scheme with the service titles POLICE on the rotor fairing and the Western Australia Police crest on the cabin door. The PC-12s have a silver and white colour scheme with a blue cheatline and the rear fuselage a reproduction of the blue bird insignia featured on the WAP official flag.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Aircraft operating with the WAPAW initially carried standard Australian civil aircraft registrations in no special sequence, e.g. Piper PA-31 Navajo VH-DEQ, but more recent aircraft have VH-WAx and VH-WPx registrations.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Aerospatiale AS365N3 Dauphin 1 1 0 Policing
Cessna 182 Skylane 2 1 0 Policing
GippsAero GA8 Airvan 1 1 0 Policing
MBB BK117B2 1 1 0 Policing
Pilatus PC-12 1 1 0 Policing

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Aerospatiale AS355F1 Twin Squirrel 1 1990 1992 France
Aerospatiale AS365N3 Dauphin 1 ? current France
Beech 55 Baron 1 ? ? USA
Bell 206L LongRanger 1 1989 2001 leased
Cessna 182 Skylane 2 197? current USA
Cessna 310R 1 ? 2001 USA
GippsAero GA8 Airvan 1 ? current Australia
MBB BK117B2 1 1992 current Japan
Partenavia P68 Observer 1 1982 ? Italy
Pilatus PC-12 2 2006 current Switzerland
Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer 1 1974 ? leased
Piper PA-31 Navajo 2+ ? 2006 USA

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

The WAPAW has suffered two accidents – an AS355 on 8 May 1992 and a Cessna 310 on 26 January 2001.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Western Australia Police Air Wing, Jandakot Airport, Jandakot WA 6164.

Organisational Structure

Police Air Wing has two units based in WA with one covering the southern state and the other covering the northern state.

Current Unit Assignments

No subordinate units.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

The WAPAW has a main base at Jandakot Airport, Perth, with one aircraft also based at Karratha Airport.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

As above.

More Information

Books

None known.

Magazines

To be added

Websites

wikipedia: Western Australia Police
Police Air Wing
Pilatus Aircraft Enthusiasts

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.

 

Northern Territory Police Air Wing

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

The Northern Territory Police was first established in 1911. An Air Wing was formed in 1979. Due to the vast distances involved, and the low population desnity, the Air Wing only operates fixed wing aircraft.

Key Dates

1911 Northern Territory Police first established.
1979 Police Air Wing set up.
2000 First Pilatus PC-12 delivered.

Current Status

The aircraft of the NT Police Air Wing are fully operational.

Future Plans

No plans known.


Markings

Special Markings

The Pilatus aircraft of the NT Police operate in a silver and blue colour scheme, with a red and pale blue fuselage cheatline. THe NT Police crest is carried on the fin and the service titles POLICE are displayed in small letters below the cockpit.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Aircraft operating with the NT Police carry Australian civil aircraft registrations, e.g. PC-12 VH-YDR.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Pilatus PC-12 2 2 0 Policing
Pilatus PC-12NG 2 2 0 Policing

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Piper PA-31 Navajo 2 1979 2001 USA
Pilatus PC-12 2 2000 current Switzerland
Pilatus PC-12NG 2 2013 current Switzerland

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

None known.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Northern Territory Police Air Wing, 3 Murphy Rd, Marrara, NT 0812.

Organisational Structure

The NT Police Air Wing has no subordinate units.

Current Unit Assignments

No subordinate units.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

The NT Police Air Wing has bases at Darwin International Airport and Alice Springs Airport.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

As above.


More Information

Books

None known.

Magazines

The Drum

Websites

wikipedia: Northern Territory Police
Pilatus Enthusiasts: Australian Northern Territory Police Air Wing
Aviator Magazine: Police Air Wing

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.

 

New South Wales Police Air Wing

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

The New South Wales Police is one of the oldest police forces in Australia, with origins dating back to the establishment a small policing unit for Sydney in 1789. The state-wide New South Wales Police Force was officially established in 1862. In 1946 an Aviation Branch was formed, to operate an ex-RAAF Avro Anson. The aircraft was withdrawn in 1950, without replacement.

In 1978 a study for the NSW government concluded that the Police Service should acquire its own helicopter for use in crime prevention and traffic work. An Aviation Support unit was established the following year. The Aviation Support Branch has now expanded to 5 helicopters and 2 fixed wing aircraft.

Key Dates

August 1789 Creation of a policing unit for the town of Sydney in the NSW colony.
1862 New South Wales Police Force established.
1946 First aircraft acquired by NSW Police – an Avro Anson.
1979 First helicopter acquired.

Current Status

The aircraft of the NSW Police Aviation Support Branch are fully operational.

Future Plans

No plans known.


Markings

Special Markings

NSW Police aircraft and helicopters operate in a blue and white colour scheme with POLICE service titles on the fuselage sides and the NSW Police insignia on the cabin door. Helicopters carry their radio call sign POLAIR x on the rotor fairing. The Cessna 206 operates in its Cessna factory colour scheme with the added titles POLICE.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Aircraft operated by the NSW Police carry Australian civil aircraft registrations in the series VH-PHx; e.g. Bell 412 VH-PHZ.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.


Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Aerospatiale AS350B2 Squirrel 3 2 0 Policing
Aerospatiale AS355N Twin Squirrel 1 1 0 Policing
Bell 412EPI 1 1 0 Policing
Cessna 206H Stationair 1 1 0 Policing
Cessna 208 Grand Caravan 1 1 0 Policing
Eurocopter EC135P2+ 1 1 0 Policing

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Aerospatiale AS350B2 Squirrel 3 1989 current France
Aerospatiale AS355N Twin Squirrel 1 1997 current France
Avro Anson 1 1946 1950 RAAF
Bell 206 JetRanger III 3 1979 19?? USA
Bell 412EPI 1 2014 current USA
Cessna 206H Stationair 1 ? current USA
Cessna 208 Grand Caravan 1 2014 current USA
Cessna 500 Citation 2 2000 2007 leased
Eurocopter EC135P2+ 1 2011 current USA
MBB BK117B-2 1 ? 2014 Germany

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

No losses known.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

New South Wales Police, Parramatta, New South Wales.

Organisational Structure

The NSW Police Aviation Support Branch has no subordinate units.

Current Unit Assignments

No subordinate units.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

The Aviation Support Branch is based at the Bankstown airport, Sydney.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

The Air unit originally operated from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (Mascot), but was relocated to Bankstown Airport by early 1992.


More Information

Books

None known.

Magazines

NSW Police Force: Police Monthly

Websites

wikipedia: New South Wales Police
Specialist Operations (News South Wales)
Facebook: Polair – NSW Police Force Airwing
Official website
Helis.com: New South Wales Police
Retribution may come from the sky
Aviation Section NSW Police
Polair Helecopter
Air Wing- Aviation Support Branch

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.

 

Australian Federal Police

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is the national police agency of Australia. It has a similar role to the FBI in the USA. It was formed on 19 October 1979 from the merger of the former Commonwealth Police and the Australian Capital Territory Police. In January 2005 the AFP established the Operational Response Team (ORT), a team of specialist tactical police officers trained to assist regular AFP officers serving with the RAMSI peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands. THe ORT was soon expanded to fulfil further operations, both within Australia and overseas, and was renamed the Operational Response Group (ORG) in 2006. To enable these long distance operations, an Aviation Support Group was created within the OSG, to provide leased aircraft and helicopters under contract. The AFP has no aircraft or helicopters of its own.

The AFP uses aircraft and helicopters as required, for training missions and operational Police work. Operations include tactical, VIP and surveillance tasks. The Aviation Support Group has qualified air crews that work with the contract pilots during police operations. Bell 212 and Bell 412 helicopters were contracted from Helicorp, (later brought out by Toll Remote Logistics), for support to the RAMSI operation, while crew and pre-deployment training was conducted with BK117s from United Aero.

On 1 July 2012 the OSG was merged with the AFP’s Canberra-based Specialist Response and Security team (SRS) to create the Specialist Response Group (SRG), with much the same duties but reduced duplication of resources. Somewhat controversialy, from 2013 a Gippsland GA8 Airvan fitted with specialist surveillance equipment was used over Australia. It even had a specific exemption allowing it to operate without navigation lights.

Key Dates

19 October 1979 Australian Federal Police established.
January 2005 Operational Support Team established.
1 July 2012 Specialist Response Group established.

Current Status

The AFP uses leased aircraft and helicopters on short and long term contracts. It has no aircraft of its own.

Future Plans

No plans known.


Markings

Special Markings

The aircraft and helicopters of the AFP operate in the colours of the lease operator, no special markings are applied.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

AFP aircraft and helicopters carry standard Australian civil aircraft registrations.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.


Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Bell 412 3 2 0 Policing
Gippsland GA8 Airvan 1 1 0 Surveillance

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Bell 412 3 2004 current leased – Toll Remote Logistics
Gippsland GA8 Airvan 1 2013 2015 leased – Airvan Flight Services
MBB BK117B-2 2 ? ? leased – United Aero

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

No losses known.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Australian Federal Police, Edmund Barton Building, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

Organisational Structure

The Specialist Response Group of the AFP includes an Aviation Support Unit.

Current Unit Assignments

No subordinate units.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

The Aviation Suport Unit is based in Canberra, ACT.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

Before the creation of the SRG in 2012, the Aviation Suport Unit of the ORG had bases in Canberra, ACT and Melbourne, VIC. There was also a forward AFP base in Brisbane, QLD. The latter two locations were closed in preparation for the establishment of the SRG.


More Information

Books

None known.

Magazines

To be added

Websites

wikipedia: Australian Federal Police
official website
AFP admits high-tech support for search
CASA EX141/11 – Exemption
wikipedia: Operational Response Group
wikipedia: Specialist Response Group
Toll Group

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.

 

South Australia Police Air Wing

of Australian Police Air Wings

History

Narrative Summary

Unlike the other police services of Australia, the South Australia Police (SAPOL) does not appear to have established a fixed wing aircraft unit. A helicopter appears to have been in use by 1980. At present, it occaisionally uses an EC120 helicopter from the State Rescue Helicopter Service, which operates under Motor Accident Commission (MAC) colours. This gives South Australia the poorest police air support of any Australian state.

Key Dates

19?? First helicopter leased.
May 1980 State Rescue Helicopter Service established.

Current Status

The SAPOL uses an EC120 from the State Rescue Helicopter Service on an ‘as required’ basis.

Future Plans

No plans known.


Markings

National Insignia

The helicopter operates in Motor Accident Commission (MAC) colours.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

The MAC helicopters carry Australian civil aircraft registrations, with the last two letters ‘SA’ for South Australia, eg. EC120 VH-OSA.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.


Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Not applicable – aircraft are administered by the State Rescue Helicopter Service.

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Not applicable – see above.

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

No losses known.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

South Australia Police, 100 Angas Street, Adelaide, SA 5000.

Organisational Structure

The SAPOL does not have a dedicated aviation unit.

Current Unit Assignments

No subordinate units.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

No applicable.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

As above.


More Information

Books

None known.

Magazines

To be added

Websites

wikipedia: South Australia Police
State Rescue Helicopters

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.

 

Victoria Police Air Wing

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

To be added.

Key Dates

1975 VPAW established using two leased Aero Commander 500s.
1979 First helicopter, an AS365C1, enters service.
1996 Helicopter operation contracted to CHC Helicopters.
2001 Re-equipment with new generation AS365N helicopters begins.

Current Status

The helicopters of the VPAW are fully operational.

Future Plans

No plans known.


Markings

Special Markings

VPAW helicopters operate in a distinctive blue and colour scheme, with the service titles POLICE on the fuselage sides and the Victoria Police insignia on the cockpit door.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

VPAW helicopters carry Australian civil aircraft registrations in the sequence VH-PVx, where PV stands for Police Victoria, e.g. AS365N3 VH-PVH.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.


Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Aerospatiale AS365N3 Dauphin 3 3 0 Policing
Eurocopter EC135 T2+ 1 1 0 Policing

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Aero Commander 500 2 1975 ? leased
Aerospatiale AS350BA Squirrel 1 1988 2010 France/contractor
Aerospatiale AS365C1 Dauphin 3 1979 2010 France/contractor
Aerospatiale AS365N3 Dauphin 3 2001 current contractor
Eurocopter EC135 T2+ 1 2010 current contractor

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

No losses known, although one of the SA365C1s made a forced landing after being hit by gunfire on 9 August 1987.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Victoria Police Air Wing, Hangar 23, 12 Larkin Court, Essendon Fields, VIC 3041.

Organisational Structure

There are no sub-units in the VPAW.

Current Unit Assignments

No subordinate units.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

VPAW helicopters are based at Essendon Airport, Melbourne.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

To be added.


More Information

Books

None known.

Magazines

To be added

Websites

wikipedia: Victoria Police Air Wing
Official VPAW website
Victoria Police Air Wing
YouTube: Victoria Police Air Wing
Facebook: Victoria Police Air Wing

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.