Airwing

Aviation Support Branch

The NSW Police Force commenced aviation operations on 19 July 1946 using an ex Royal Australian Air Force Avro Anson fixed wing aircraft. This aircraft was operated in all parts of the State and was used primarily for the transport of specialist squads. The aircraft was piloted by members of the NSW Police Force who had previously served in the military.

As the size of the NSW Police Force increased, detectives and scientific police were stationed at larger country centres and the need to transport these specialists from Sydney diminished. For this and other economical reasons, aviation support was disbanded on 31 August 1950.

In 1979, due to an alarming increase in armed hold ups, the State Government decided to initiate aviation support. Overseas studies had demonstrated that aircraft were a valuable resource to policing strategies.

Australia’s first Police helicopter arrived on 7 May 1979 when the NSW Police Force took delivery of a Bell 206 Jet Ranger III helicopter. Polair 1 was placed into immediate service to address the armed hold up problem. The success of this initiative led to the subsequent purchase and delivery of a further two Jet Ranger helicopters over the next 19 months, Polair 2 and Polair 3. The original Polair 1 is now on display at the Aviation Support Branch base at Bankstown Airport.

Over the ensuring years the role of police aviation expanded and on 18 August 1997, the NSW Police took delivery of a Eurocopter Squirrel Helicopter (AS-355N). This particular twin engine helicopter was designed in conjunction with French military forces for special low level operations. This aircraft type has a larger load carrying capacity than the Jet Ranger helicopters used by the Aviation Support Branch.

Today the NSW Police Force has 6 Polair aircraft - 5 helicopters and 1 fixed wing. The aircraft are fitted with a mixture of hi-tech thermal imagining equipment, on board computers, real time video feeds to ground stations, search lights and rescue winches.

In 2011 Polair 2 was deployed to Perth, Western Australia to provide support to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHoGM) and in the process flew across the Nullarbor Plain twice!

The Aviation Support Branch provides a range of services including targeting serious, major and organised crime and counter terrorism matters, crime operations, search and rescue, emergencies and the investigation of aviation fatalities across New South Wales.
Our Motto: Pride, Passion, Professionalism