The Police Air Support Unit works for you!
The Police Air Support Unit has one of its bases and its flying school here at Göteborg City Airport.
We really have the Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev to thank for police helicopters in Sweden. It was his state visit in 1964 that prompted the need to survey large areas from the air. The first model was the classic black and white Bell 47, followed by the slightly larger Bell 206. These operated until 2001 when the new generation of twin-engine helicopters began to be used. The Eurocopter EC 135 was chosen. Today, the Swedish Police boasts one of the world's most modern helicopters. The price of just one EC 135 is approx 40 million SEK, of which half is for the advanced technical equipment. The Bell 206 is still often seen here however, as it is used by the flying school stationed at the City Airport.
The Police Air Support Unit is part of the National Swedish Criminal Investigation Department and, in addition to Gothenburg, it currently has bases in Boden, Östersund, Stockholm and Malmö. Helicopters have proven highly effective in police work. Much of the work relates to rescue services and serious crime, which together account for two-thirds of all assignments. The remaining assignments include combating environmental crime, border control, monitoring nature, hunting and fishing as well as a variety of large gatherings, state visits and other similar events.
One common reason the Police Air Support Unit is called in is to search for missing persons. They may be children or elderly, confused persons who have become lost. Disease, accidents and attempted suicide are other common reasons for disappearances. Every year, more than 1200 persons are reported missing in the Gothenburg area alone. Of these, 250 cases lead to the Police Air Support Unit being called in. 98% are found – a most impressive result. A very useful technical aid in these cases is the thermocamera, which is available in all police helicopters. The Police Air Support Unit is no longer involved in speed checks. These have been handled entirely from the ground since 2002. The Police Air Support Unit does, however, sometimes assist the traffic police's motorcycles by directing them from the air, documenting traffic events, etc.
The Police Air Support Unit also works closely with the dog patrols. The police dogs are used to travelling by helicopter and do not appear to mind. The dogs are less keen on being lowered down from the air however, though once down they quickly forget their uncomfortable experience and continue their work as usual.
Every police helicopter is manned by a pilot and an operator who works the complicated equipment. Four years of police service are required to become a helicopter pilot, and the training takes 1.5 years. A new idea being discussed right now is to take ready-trained military pilots from the closed-down helicopter division at Säve and train them to become policemen. According to Gustafsson, the Police Air Support Unit needs many more air staff.
The flying school also handles the important further training of the Police Air Support Unit's staff. The staff regularly undergoes training in difficult elements such as night flying, mountain flying, suspended loads and instrument flying.
In the daytime, the Police Air Support Unit must be able to be in the air no more than five minutes after an alarm. In reality, a couple of minutes is usually enough. The helicopters have twin-engines and can therefore fly at night, in poor weather conditions and over the sea. Nowadays, the pilots are also equipped with so-called night vision goggles, which allow them to see in total darkness.
The work of the Police Air Support Unit includes:
- Reconnaissance and searching
- Directional support
- Documentation, photography/filming
- Urgent transport
- Border surveillance
- Other surveillance
- Linking video pictures to the central station
- Mountain rescues
- Patient transport
- Missing persons
- Disaster efforts etc
- Stick for rappelling
- Direction equipment
- Night vision goggles
- Thermocamera and video camera
- Headlamps with visible and invisible light
- Hook for hanging loads
Data EC 135
- 2 engines of 734 hp
- 2835 kg max loaded weight
- 600 km range
- 240 km/h cruising speed
- 1-2 man crew
- 1-6 passengers
- 2.5-3 hr action time