Better, faster, stronger. That’s what Edmontonians can expect out of the police service’s new Air 1 helicopter.
The $5.9 million Airbus H-125 helicopter was unveiled on Friday morning. With a more powerful engine and higher fuel capacity, the helicopter will be faster and able to spend more time in the sky.
“It gives us an ability to have a very quick police response and then provide that intelligence or the observations that we make to the officers on the ground,” chief pilot Murray Maschmeyer said.
Listen below: Air 1 chief pilot Murray Maschmeyer speaks to 630 CHED Friday morning
“With the continued growth of the city, the mobility of criminals across the region, and the need for greater public and officer safety, a new helicopter with enhanced capabilities is required,” acting police chief Greg Preston added.
“We can provide a greater level of safety and support across the city.”
This particular model of helicopter is used by more than 200 law enforcement agencies around the world. Other enhancements on this model include an enhanced digital camera and infrared system, GPS navigational overlays and upgraded safety features to prevent engine failures.
The model was chosen for its affordability, versatility and dependability.
“A strong, efficient police force improves the livability of any city,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “New technologies and resources like Air 1 will help EPS protect our citizens, keep our cities safe and strengthen EPS’ reputation as a national leader in policing.”
EPS Air 1 responds to about 3,000 calls per year, and assists with calls from the fire department and the RCMP.
Of the $5.9 million cost of the chopper, $3.4 million came from the Alberta Government Municipal Sustainability Initiative. The rest of the funding was from the City of Edmonton.
“We are proud to be able to help make Edmonton a safer place to live,” Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson said.
“Strong, safe communities are more attractive places to locate a business and raise a family, and it is very important for us to be able to support the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Police Service in these goals.”
The EPS previously had two Airbus EC-120 helicopters in service, so that if one was down for maintenance or repairs, the other could continue to fly.
Police officers have been training on the new Air 1 since September. Now that the new chopper is in service, the old Air 1 purchased in 2001 was decommissioned.