Cambridgeshire take to the sky

A new helicopter is now in full service over Cambridgeshire and sports some cutting-edge technology.

Jul 13, 2006
By David Howell
Picture: An Garda Síochána

A new helicopter is now in full service over Cambridgeshire and sports some cutting-edge technology.

The aircraft has computer mapping systems, which enable crews to pinpoint locations with greater accuracy, a Wescam camera system that has advanced thermal imaging and a highly efficient downlink to the force’s control room giving them access to clearer images.

The MD902 Explorer is the force’s new £3.9 million eye in the sky and also sports a 30 million candle power searchlight, digital video recorders and public address system.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hopkins said: “The air operations unit is a vital part of the police family and plays an important role in investigations, operations and live incidents across the whole of Cambridgeshire.

“The new helicopter can be utilised in many different ways, from searching for missing and vulnerable people, locating offenders and vehicle follows to surveillance, major incident planning and monitoring public order incidents.”

The new aircraft means that officers can fly for around two hours without having to refuel and can carry up to eight people, including the pilot and two air observers, compared with five in the old helicopter. The extra capacity is also useful in supporting MAGPAS (Mid Anglia General Practitioner Accident Service), by taking the voluntary emergency medical team direct to the scene of an incident within minutes.

The helicopter will also carry a high-quality folding stretcher to allow the airlifting of victims to hospital.

ACC Hopkins added: “The helicopter allows us to search areas of the county that we would not easily be able to reach and land in places where other police vehicles would not be able to get to.

“The helicopter has already proven how valuable a tool it can be in fighting crime in Cambridgeshire, and across the consortium forces and I am sure that the new aircraft will be as big an asset to the force, in keeping the county safe.”

Michael Williamson, Chairman of the Police Authority, said: “The Police Authority is delighted to have provided the funding for the new helicopter, which will prove to be invaluable support in a variety of situations, including searching for missing persons. We are sending criminals in Cambridgeshire the message that there is no escape when we have this kind of technology at our disposal.

“The new, quieter helicopter is even more technologically advanced and the Authority believes its presence in the skies is a welcome and reassuring one.”

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