The Police Air Wing provides aerial support for police, search and rescue and ambulance operations using a modern fleet of twin engine helicopters.
The Victoria Police Air Wing was officially formed in 1975, after members of the Victoria Police Aero Club demonstrated to both Force Command and the Government of the effectiveness of aviation as a police resource.
Initially, the Police Air Wing operations were all fixed wing, with two twin-engine Aero Commander planes to provide air transport for police personnel and support staff throughout Victoria. Helicopters were introduced in 1979, with the initial purchase of a French-built Aerospatiale Dauphin SA 365C twin-engine helicopter. Two more Dauphins were purchased in 1986.
In 1988, Victoria Police purchased a single-engine AS 350B Squirrel helicopter to support routine operations such as surveillance and traffic patrol in the country areas of Victoria.
The provision and maintenance of police helicopters was outsourced during 1996 and Victoria Police now leases helicopter services from a private contractor. The current fleet consists of Dauphin AS365 N3's and an EC135.
The Air Wing's work includes:
- Crime prevention and detection - regular patrols of metropolitan Melbourne.
- Traffic surveillance - to enable police to better assess a situation on major traffic thoroughfares.
- Detection of traffic offenders through Operation Airtector - to detect and apprehend blatant traffic violators on the state highways.
- Location of stolen cars - search areas of bushland where dumped stolen cars are to be found in remote and otherwise barely accessible areas.
- Air-surface direction of other units - from the vantage of aerial observation, guiding police on the ground or water to their targets.
- Search and Rescue - an aerial search to find people missing at sea or remote places. The helicopters can cover large areas in a short space of time, increasing the chance of rescue.
- Fire duties - The Air Wing can provide the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) with aerial observation reports or evacuation support.
- Photographic tasks - the Air Wing provides aerial support to facilitate all types of aerial photography for crime, traffic, planning and routine operations.
- Covert surveillance - observation and photography of criminal activities.
- Urgent transport of specialist members, such as the Dog Squad, to time critical incidents.
The Air Wing provides a 24-hour ambulance service to time-critical patients primarily serving the outer Melbourne metropolitan area covering a radius of around 150 kilometres from its base at Essendon Airport. This helicopter is crewed by a police pilot, a police Tactical Flight Officer and a MICA Flight Paramedic.
With vertical take off and landing ability, the helicopter can land on a roadway, treat and stabilise a patient, then provide fast, uninterrupted transport to the nearest medical centre or hospital. The Air Ambulance helicopter is also used for inter-hospital transfers and as a back up to the police helicopter.
Victoria Police Air Wing
12 Larkin Court
Essendon Fields VIC 3041
Phone: (03) 9289 3500
Fax: (03) 9289 3550