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Aerospace Security

NPAS sees increase in essential engineering requirements

Whilst availability of National Police Air Service (NPAS) aircraft in the month of February was 69.2% - due to an increase in essential engineering requirements - average availability for the year was higher than the previous year, at 71.4%.

Image courtesy NPAS

Planned engineering means it is not possible to achieve 100% availability.

In February 2024, the average time to reach the scene of Priority One (urgent) incidents was just nine minutes and 47 seconds. For Priority Two incidents (non urgent), the average time it took to reach a scene was 19 minutes and 24 seconds.

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In February, 2,520 calls for air support were received, compared to 3,021 the previous month.

Year-to-date, NPAS rotary aircraft have flown on behalf of forces for a total of 10,193 hours and its fixed wing aircraft for 443 hours. The fixed wing crews have assisted 38 different police forces across England and Wales.

The proportion of tasks resulting in a positive outcome remains high, at 88.7%. In real terms, this equates to 1,555 missing or vulnerable people located, 4,092 suspects caught and 1,686 vehicles tracked so far this year, either directly, or with the assistance of, national police air support.

There have also been 763 pre-planned tasks carried out by NPAS since the beginning of April 2023.

Some of February's incidents of note

  • On 2nd February 2024, a crew from NPAS London was deployed to assist in the search for a suspect in an attempted murder investigation. After clearing an initial search area, the crew targeted further potential search sites and quickly located the suspect hiding in an outbuilding. The aircraft remained overhead to provide a containment of the scene, for public and officer safety, whilst ground units were directed to his location. He was safely arrested.

 

  • On 25th February 2024, the duty crew from NPAS Barton was tasked to assist in the search for stolen motorcycles. On arriving overhead, the crew quickly spot two motorbikes being ridden dangerously. They track one of the bikes into a wooded area, where the rider and passenger run off on foot. Police officers are directed to them and detain both suspects, plus recover discarded items of clothing, again which the air crew lead them to. The crew then locate the second suspect motorbike nearby. The rider makes off on seeing the helicopter but is unable to escape. Ground patrols are talked to his location and he is arrested. Those arrested were known to police as vehicle thief suspects.
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  • An NPAS Newcastle crew was deployed on 27th February 2024 to assist in the search for a man who had threatened to harm himself. The crew quickly found the man in a remote, cliff top area. A live ‘downlink’ of the location was streamed into the local police force control room to assist with the deployment of ground resources. The NPAS crew directed ground police patrols and the HM Coastguard unit to the man. He was recovered safely.

 

  • Whilst already airborne on 19th February 2024, a crew from NPAS Husbands Bosworth was diverted to reports of a suicidal missing woman who had gone into a swollen, fast-moving river. Arriving in minutes, the crew located the women half a mile downstream in flood waters. Using their powerful NightSun spotlight, mapping coordinates and a live-time ‘downlink’ to officers, the Fire and Rescue Service was directed to the nearest access point to safely rescue the woman and get her quickly to the awaiting ambulance service.

 

 

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