We present a selection of turbine-powered helicopters performing in law enforcement roles around the world.
By Pro Pilot staff
Airborne law enforcement (LE) agencies operating rotary-wing aircraft often fulfill a variety of missions in different demanding environments. These missions are not limited to aerial patrol, transport, and search and rescue (SAR), but may also include emergency response and medical transport.
Light single-engine, single-pilot helicopters offer lower operating costs while performing reliably and handling most tasks favorably.
And larger twin-engine platforms, on the other side, offer a perfect complement, as they have greater range and speed capabilities, as well as the capacity to carry heavier loads. Here’s what’s available for LE agencies and other parapublic services from the major helicopter manufacturers.
The single light H125 and H130, each powered by a Safran Arriel 2D turbine, are helicopters of choice for many LE operators around the world. Benefits include mission versatility, low sound levels, and lift capability.
A variety of solutions has been developed for H125 and H130 parapublic missions, including LE-specific instrument panels, searchlights, electro-optical (EO) systems, operator consoles, night vision goggle (NVG)-compatible light sourcing and instruments, wire strike protection, loudspeakers, downlink, and rappelling equipment for tactical team deployment.
The twin-engine H135s and H145s are widely used by police forces for their large cabins, wide side doors and rear clamshell doors for loading/unloading, and high-set main and tail rotors, which improve safety during ground operations.
The medium twin AS365 N3+ and H155 platforms are both workhorses in a diverse range of duties. They come equipped with glass cockpits that incorporate digital avionics and a 4-axis autopilot, allowing pilots to concentrate on the mission. In addition, the H175 is a highly capable platform for parapublic applications. Its large cabin has low vibration levels, resulting in a smooth ride – even at high speeds.
AW109 Trekker has twin P&W PW207C powerplants and Genesys Aerosystems avionics. With an endurance of more than 4 hours, it’s suited for patrol, surveillance, and similar parapublic missions.
Its large cabin has space for mission consoles and dedicated tactical mission equipment, including multi-band radios, radar, EO/IR devices, searchlights, loudspeakers, rescue hoist, and cargo hook.
AW119Kx offers LE agencies a cost-effective platform with mission flexibility. It has a single P&W PT6B-37A engine, and Garmin’s G1000NXi glass cockpit, which enhances situational awareness.
Its multi-role cabin can be configured with combinations of seats and mission-specific equipment, and its wide doors give good accessibility.
AW139 is powered by 2 FADEC-equipped P&W PT6C-67C turboshafts. It can seat up to 15 pax or 10 deployable LE officers, and can be reconfigured in a variety of layouts, including accommodation for a fully-integrated mission console and advanced role equipment.
The AW139 is suitable for a wide range of operations in confined and congested areas, and is easily adapted for disaster relief, humanitarian and community support.
AW169 is equipped with dual P&W PW210A engines and features an open architecture avionics suite that improves visibility and minimizes pilot fatigue. Its configurable cabin can carry up to 8 LE officers.
The AW169 can be equipped with tools to fulfill roles such as surveillance, aerial support, drug enforcement, border patrol, medical and casualty evacuation, disaster relief, and SAR.
Bell 505 Jet Ranger X is powered by a Safran Arrius 2R engine, and comes equipped with Garmin G1000H NXi avionics. It sports a highly-configurable cabin, and external mounting points for required equipment.
Its multi-mission capability makes it a favorite with public safety operators, as it has the ability to add features such as a searchlight, EO/infrared (IR) sensor, public address speaker, large-format high-definition mission display, tactical radio, and additional audio panels.
Bell 407GXi comes with a Rolls-Royce 250-C47E/4 engine, coupled with an all-composite 4-blade rotor system that delivers superior hover performance, speed, and a smooth, quiet ride. Its Garmin G1000H NXi suite provides excellent situational awareness and improves safety.
It has a spacious cabin that can be configured for different missions, and has an abundant capacity for LE equipment, like multi-sensor cameras and searchlights. In addition, the 407GXi has nearly 4-hours of loitering capability – ideal for patrol and surveillance missions.
Bell 429 has 2 P&W 207D1 engines, and Garmin GTN 650/750 with NAV/COM/WAAS GPS as standard equipment. Options include moving maps, multi-sensor camera imagery, searchlights, loudhailer, and NVG-compatible display units.
Its cabin volume, large cabin doors, and optional rear clamshell doors, can accommodate additional special mission equipment easily, and allow for tactical unit deployments or hoist operations.
Bell 412EPI is pushed by a pair of P&W PT6T-9 engines and has Garmin GTN 750 NAV/COM/WAAS GPS with helicopter terrain avoidance warning system (HTAWS). It has a cargo hook capacity of 4500 lb, and its cabin can be customized to match specific mission needs.
MD 500E comes with a 5-bladed main rotor that can be coupled with the operator’s choice of a single Rolls-Royce 250-C20B (420 shp)or Rolls-Royce 250-C20R (450 shp) turbine engine.
Its cockpit is ergonomically designed to facilitate single-pilot operation in the left-hand or right-hand command configuration.
Also, noise signature is below FAA and ICAO requirements. Its large, flat floor provides plenty of room for cargo, and the useful internal load of 1519 lb is ideal for most utility ops.
MD 500N has a single Rolls-Royce 250-C20R/2, which produces 450 shp, enabling a useful load of 1764 lb and a max range of 210 nm. MD’s proprietary NOTAR anti-torque system makes it a quiet and safe machine. In addition to police air support, typical applications include aerial survey, air rescue, and other parapublic duties.
MD 530F is equipped with a 650-shp Rolls-Royce 250-C30 engine, providing reliable performance in hot and high environments. Its glass cockpit includes a Garmin G500H TXi integrated display system which uses a dual display unit to serve as the primary flight display (PFD) and multi-function display (MFD).
Options to improve situational awareness include Garmin’s helicopter synthetic vision technology, and HTAWS.
MD 600N derives its impressive control and maneuverability from its NOTAR anti-torque system and 6-bladed fully-articulated main rotor, which is driven by a single Rolls-Royce 250-C47M turbine engine producing 808 shp.
Cockpit instrumentation consists of a Garmin G500 suite that includes an MFD and PFD, and an engine indicating and crew alerting system.
MD 902 Explorer is the manufacturer’s twin-engine solution for the parapublic market. It’s powered by a pair of P&W PW207E, rated at 710 shp. In addition, it has a built-in health and usage monitoring system (HUMS), allowing technicians to download engine and flight data for reduced downtime during maintenance events.
Optional LE equipment available for the MD 902 Explorer includes a 3000-lb-capacity cargo hook, external hoist (up to 600 lb), and mounts for a variety of searchlights, such as TrakkaBeam A800, Starburst SX-5, and Night Sun SX-16. For better situational awareness, options include enhanced ground proximity warning systems, weather radar, and Garmin GTN 650 GPS/NAV/COM.
R66 is powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300 turbine engine delivering 300 shp. The company launched an LE version of the R66 (certified by FAA in 2012) which can carry a thermal imaging camera, a 10-inch fold-down color monitor, Spectrolab SX-7 searchlight, and dual audio controller.
The R66 police helo has a cruise speed of up to 120 kts, and a payload of 800 lb with full fuel.
S-70i FireHawk is based on the UH-60 Black Hawk, and performs well in firefighting and utility roles. Its multi-mission nature makes it reconfigurable for many parapublic purposes, including SAR, hoist rescue, troop transport, and medical evacuation with in-cabin equipment.
FireHawk is powered by 2 GE T700-GE-701D engines, has a digital glass cockpit with flight management system, and is certified for single-pilot ops.
The all-weather S-92 performs parapublic missions such as coastal and border patrol, emergency response, and humanitarian aid. Upgrades were announced at this year’s Heli-Expo for an S-92A+ kit.
Improvements include the option of replacing the GE CT7-8A with the newer CT7-8A6 engine, which performs better in hot and high environments.
Furthermore, it will have a 27,700-lb max gross weight with increased payload, and longer time between overhauls.
Sikorsky also announced a new-production S-92B helicopter with all the A+ features, lower acquisition costs, and more economical hourly support program.