The Victoria Police Air Wing is reaching new heights as they soar at 20,000ft in a new fixed wing Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER airplane.
The fixed wing is the first airplane used by the Air Wing in over 20 years and its addition marks the completion of the Air Wing fleet upgrade.
Operational since August this year, the plane was acquired from Skytraders following a tender and procurement process.
It allows the Air Wing to provide elite tactical support from metropolitan Melbourne to the farthest reaches of regional Victoria, all in one shift.
In its first three months, the fixed wing has assisted with over 600 incidents and investigations, with nearly 200 of those in regional Victoria.
Of these, 111 offenders were arrested for crimes such as evades, pursuits and erratic driving in stolen vehicles among others.
The state-of-the-art airplane joins three Leonardo AW139 helicopters which replaced the unit’s midrange utility choppers earlier this year.
Boasting the same advanced camera and mapping technology as the three new helicopters, the fixed wing enables police to lock eyes on offenders from significantly greater distances than ever before.
The airplane also has the added advantage of being able to remain airborne for more than six hours if needed, negating the need for refuelling along the way.
Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther said the final addition to the cutting-edge Air Wing fleet enables police to rapidly respond as incidents are unfolding and provide increased aerial observation state-wide.
“We often see evades, pursuits or hostile vehicle events unfolding in a series. Whether it’s in Mildura or Mordialloc, we will now be able to provide a specialist response in those first critical moments to prevent further harm from taking place,” DC Guenther said.
“We can task our members to cover more areas and effectively provide a better service across Victoria through an enhanced viewing platform.
“Importantly, we can cover great distances without stopping, which will save precious time during critical events or searches for high-risk missing people on land or at sea.
“Being able to quickly deploy elite units such as the Search and Rescue Squad, Critical Incident Response Team and the Special Operations Group will mean that they can get across the state in a matter of hours,” DC Guenther said.
The Victoria Police Air Wing has been operating since the mid-1970s and responds to more than 5000 jobs a year.
It supports a range of functions including callouts for search and rescue, crime prevention and detection, ground unit direction, aerial observation and rapid deployment of specialist units including tactical police, Dog Squad units, Search and Rescue and Water Police.
The unit also assists across geographic areas that can’t be easily navigated on foot due to steep or mountainous terrain.