York Regional Police unveils new helicopter
March 21, 2023 By Phil Lightstone
After 20 years of service, York Regional Police’s Air Service is retiring their Eurocopter EC120 helicopter after receiving their new Airbus H125 state of the art helicopter. Their old EC120 with over 20,000 hours, has an operational speed of 120 knots and 2.5 hours of endurance. The new Airbus H125, based upon the police services configuration, sports a 900 HP engine, cruises at 140 knots and 4.5 hours of endurance. The H125’s endurance improves while loitering over a crime screen. Purchased at approximately CAD $7.2 Million, the new Airbus, Air2, complements Durham Region’s Air1 helicopter. Interestingly, Toronto Police Services does not have a helicopter of their own.
On March 20, 2023, amongst much fanfare, YRP unveiled to the public and media their new Airbus helicopter. Dignitaries included numerous York Region mayors, Chief Jim MacSween of York Region Police and members of the York Region Police Services Board. With roughly 10 minutes of speeches beginning with Mr. Wayne Emmerson Chair of the Police Services Board and ending with Acting Staff Sergeant Jeremy Beatty, YRP articulated the benefits of the use of Air Services in policing in York Region.
Based upon the success of a two-year pilot program, started in 2000 with a donated helicopter, YRP’s first helicopter has operated for more than 20 years, acquiring more than 20,000 flight hours. In 2022, YRP’s Air Service had 1,373 calls to a variety of events, including: car hijacking; armed crimes; speeding; road racing; and search and rescue inclusive of locating missing people (to name a few). With the size of York Region, the use of a helicopter has become a vital piece of equipment to backup ground operations.
YRP’s Air Service is comprised of 6 Constable Tactical Flight Officers (who are police), flying in the left seat, and operating the ground frequencies, high resolution Westcam MX10 thermal imaging video surveillance systems, PA systems, high intensity lighting and other police tactical systems. The new helicopter sports a 17” ultra-high resolution display for the TFO to operate, increased from 11” in the old helicopter. Acting Staff Sergeant Jeremy Beatty reports: “with state of the thermal sensors combined with augmented reality, street maps are overlaid unto the thermal imaging, providing immediate geographic information which is relayed to police ground operations.
Flight operations are outsourced to Canadian Helicopters (CH) of Les Cedres, QC Quebec. CH provides both the pilots and maintenance personnel to operate the police helicopter 24 x 7 x 365. Operating out of the Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport (CYKZ), an uncontrolled airport, presents its own challenges. Historically, CYKZ was Canada’s sixth busiest airport, which lost its NAV Canada control tower on January 3, 2019. Fortunately, YRP helicopters are equipped with TCAS to provide immediate notification of not only aircraft in the circuit, but also transitioning the zone.
YRP’s Air Services motto eloquently describes their mission: “Enhanced Public Safety from the Air”. Checkout the exclusive PlaneTalk Podcast fireside chat with Air2 Tactical Flight Officers and pilots.