A new state-of-the-art helicopter will be brought into service for Police Scotland as part of a new seven-year air support contract.
Bond Air Services secured the contract with the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland after they were selected as the preferred bidder following a competitive tendering and procurement process.
The new helicopter – an Airbus EC135 T3 – will become operational from October 1 2016. It will replace the current police helicopter, an EC135 T2.
The EC135 T3 is a lightweight, twin-engined helicopter and is the latest evolution of the proven EC135 T3 with better performance, longer endurance and reduced noise levels.
In addition to the standard equipment fitted to Police aircraft, the Police Scotland EC135 T3 will be delivered with additional equipment and features.
Recognising the recommendations from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report into the Glasgow helicopter crash on 29 November 2013, the new helicopter will be fitted with a Cockpit Voice and Flight Data Recorder (CVFDR).
The helicopter will also be equipped with a Lightweight Aircraft Recording System (LARS) which will video helicopter flight systems and instruments within the cockpit.
In addition the new aircraft will have additional safety features such as the Helicopter Terrain Awareness & Warning System (HTAWS) and Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) fitted.
Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins, Operational Support, said: “Bond Air Services and Police Scotland have a well-established collaborative relationship and have worked together to find solutions to enhance the operational capabilities of Police Scotland air support whilst taking into consideration the AAIB recommendations.
“We are looking forward to working with Bond Air Services over the period of the new contract to ensure that our air support provision remains a vital part of our capacity and capability in how we serve communities.
“Air support plays a crucial role in a wide variety of operational circumstances, from helping to trace vulnerable people to tracing offenders and carrying out other tasks in support of local and specialist policing across the country.
“The new helicopter will be fitted with technology which goes beyond current industry standards for this type of aircraft.”
Mr Andrew Flanagan, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority, said: “The SPA set expectations that a renewed air support service for policing in Scotland should set the standard for safety in the UK, and we are pleased that this new contract delivers on that.
“One of the benefits of moving to a single police service is that communities have equity of access to specialist services over and above the day to day routine. This new contract will ensure that air support is readily available to contribute to policing in all communities in Scotland when it is needed.”
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