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Police Helicopter

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The current helicopter is a £4.3 million Eurocopter EC135P2+. The helicopter is available to the three forces 20 hours a day, every day of the year. It can cruise at around 120mph and can reach most areas of Northamptonshire within 10 to 12 minutes. It is routinely crewed by a pilot and two observers and the staff of EMASU include Unit Executive Officer Mick Dunn; three full time Police Constables from Northamptonshire Police; three constables from Warwickshire Constabulary; one Sergeant and two constables from Leicestershire Constabulary. All these officers work as Air Observers. In addition the Unit employs four pilots.


As well as their operational work, officers from EMASU also give talks to groups to provide an insight into the workings of the helicopter and the Unit. It is common practice for many of these groups to give a donation and the Unit has always administered a charity account to deal with such monies. In the past ten years, more than £6,000 has been raised and distributed to such deserving causes as cancer hospices in all three counties and national charities including The Meningitis Trust and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital

  • The Unit has endeavoured to be very proactive and forward looking and has led the way nationally in the development of digital mapping and the use of Night Vision Goggles
  • Clam shell rear doors – give easy access to the helicopter’s role equipment. The lack of an external tail rotor also means the aircraft can quickly and safely be converted for the carriage of a casualty on a stretcher
  • A FLIR Systems HD camera system incorporating the latest thermal image technology and a large magnification video camera. The system is linked to on board Hard Drive Recorders so that the crews can capture, on tape, for evidential purposes, incidents they attend
  • Nitesun – a 30 million candle-power search lamp to illuminate scenes of incidents
  • Nitesun
  • Skyshout – a 850 watt public address system which allows crews to broadcast messages from the air
  • To keep in touch with all three forces, both in the air and on the ground, EMASU officers utilise the latest police “Airwaves” communications systems
  • Skyquest moving map display – a satellite based global positioning system, displaying the position of the aircraft with true accuracyThe system can display maps of varying scales down to individual premises and can also be linked to the cameras to pinpoint the precise location where offenders may be hiding
  • T.C.A.S – a Traffic Collision Avoidance System which displays in the helicopter the position of other aircraft in close proximity. This equipment, which has been recommended by the Home Office, is a particular safety feature in areas of uncontrolled air space frequented by military low flying aircraft
  • Radio equipment – capable of providing air to ground communication with the control rooms of all three forces
  • Digital Microwave Downlink – coupled to the cameras, this allows real-time pictures to be beamed down to a receiving station, either in the police control rooms or to a portable receiving unit
  • Advanced rotor head and a fenestron tail rotor design (rotor built into the tail, not exposed) – increases safety and reduces noise levels
  • The Unit is also one of only two police air units that operates with the full crew using Night Vision Goggles enabling the pilot and the observers to see clearly in the dark, in addition to the thermal imaging technology
  • The Night Vision Goggles (Fenns NG2000) increase visibility, improve operational effectiveness and enhance flight safety


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