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Public service agencies around the world count on the reliability, performance and efficiency of Airbus rotorcraft for their critical missions. On call every day, Airbus’ light, medium and medium-heavy helicopters are ready for duties that include law enforcement, firefighting, and search and rescue.


Light helicopters

All members of Airbus Helicopters’ light rotorcraft family are deployed in parapublic missions, accounting for an important percentage of the worldwide fleet.

Members of the single- and twin-engine Ecureuil product line, such as the H125 and H130, are helicopters of choice for many operators. Benefits include their quiet operation for discretion; their lift capability to carry mission equipment, observers, light armament, and sling loads; and their mission versatility.

The twin-engine H135 and EC145 (the latest version being the H145) are widely used by police forces and other agencies. Versatility is enhanced by large cabins and usable interior volume for equipment and personnel, wide side doors and rear clamshell doors for loading/unloading, and high-set main and tail rotors for safety during ground operations.

Airbus Helicopters has raised the performance of its light rotorcraft with a series of enhancements across the aircraft families, thereby boosting their payload lift capability, while further improving operability through upgrades to their cockpits and avionics.

Medium helicopters

Dauphin twin-engine helicopters such as the AS365 N3+ and H155 have earned their reputation as workhorse rotorcraft in a diverse range of duties, from border patrol and the deployment of special forces to firefighting, and demanding search and rescue missions. Their modern glass cockpits incorporate digital avionics and a 4-axis autopilot, allowing pilots to concentrate on the mission.

Joining Airbus Helicopters’ product line is the new H175, which provides a highly capable platform for search and rescue missions and parapublic applications. The large cabin is enhanced by very low vibration levels and a smooth ride – even at high speeds.

Heavy helicopters

Airbus Helicopters’ Super Puma family, which includes the H225, combine excellent payload lift and range capabilities for highly demanding missions with law enforcement agencies and fire departments.

The extremely large cabin, coupled with the helicopters’ high cruise speed and smooth ride, make Super Pumas the perfect choice for missions requiring transport of tactical personnel or long-range search missions. They can carry full SWAT teams with rappelling/fast rope deployment capabilities, and can be equipped with external hoists and search & weather radar, among other mission equipment.



Search and rescue

Perhaps the most iconic rotorcraft in search and rescue (SAR) is the U.S. Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin. With some 100 of these aircraft in service, the HH-65C is used by the Coast Guard along the country’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts, in the Gulf of Mexico and the Hawaiian Islands.

During its service lifetime, the Dolphin fleet has been upgraded with technical and hardware support from Airbus Helicopters, and has been assigned additional missions – including armed interdiction of surface vessels involved in smuggling, as well as security and intercept air patrols over the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

The Finnish Border Guard has utilized AS332 L1 Super Pumas (now known as the H215 family) for more than a quarter century, with these rotorcraft fully equipped for maritime search and rescue missions in the country’s challenging conditions.

Also operating Airbus Helicopter rotorcraft are: the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency (SASEMAR), with an H225 for maritime SAR and pollution control missions; the EC145 fleet with Switzerland’s Rega; and numerous Super Puma family aircraft used for rescue duties in support of the world’s offshore oil and gas industry.

Among the leading countries with Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft for firefighting service is Japan, which has been using the company’s products in such missions since 1967.

The Tokyo Fire Department operates H225s, having expanded its inventory of these medium-heavy rotary-wing aircraft for firefighting, emergency medical services as well as search and rescue missions – which are used along with its medium-sized Dauphins.

The Nagoya City Fire Bureau has flown Airbus Helicopters products for over 40 years, and currently operates AS365 Dauphins – with the enhanced AS365 N3+ version on order for delivery in 2015.

The H225s of the South Korean national 119 Rescue Service and the Chinese Guangzhou police are equipped with an Airbus Helicopters-developed firefighting system consisting of a flexible 4,000-liter tank attached to the floor of the cabin, a scoop and water jettison kit, and a system of hatches underneath the fuselage to empty the tank. The tank can be pumped full with the helicopter in hover flight.

In the United States, Georgia-based Helicopter Express Helicopter Express deploys the H125 as a contractor for the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior – performing aerial water delivery, prescribed burning, rappelling operations, and personnel delivery.

Airbus Helicopters is an industry-leading supplier of parapublic rotorcraft, with its aircraft familiar sights in the skies on nearly every continent.

Among the most recognized are:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard’s HH-65C Dolphins
  • The German Federal Police’s inventory of EC135 T2i helicopters
  • The Los Angeles Police Department’s AS350 B2 A-Stars
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s AS350 B3s
  • The Tokyo Fire Department’s Super Pumas and Dauphins
  • The French Gendarmerie’s EC145, H135 and AS350 helicopters
  • The French Securité Civile’s EC145s
Law enforcement (focus on the United States)

The Los Angeles Police Department's inventory of Ecureuil AS350 B2 helicopters (now part of the H125 family) is a key component in one of the world’s largest municipal police aviation units. The rotorcraft are used to assist ground units, observe pursuits during the city’s famous car chases, and provide support for undercover police operations.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deploys AS350s and the larger H215 Super Puma helicopters for missions ranging from patrol and pursuit to search, rescue and the transport of special teams across its massive coverage area.

In addition to many local law enforcement agencies across the United States with Ecureuil, H135 and EC145 helicopters, the U.S. federal Customs and Border Protection agency operates both the H120 and AS350 versions (now the H125). They are flown along the country’s southwest border region with Mexico – which covers a distance of more than 2,000 miles of harsh and inhospitable terrain, where the threats of drug trafficking, alien smuggling and terrorism converge.

Law enforcement (focus on Europe)

Europe is a major market for Airbus Helicopters’ rotorcraft in law enforcement duties. In Germany, the North Rhine-Westphalia Police Force utilizes both H155 Dauphin-family aircraft and BK117s from Airbus Helicopters’ predecessor company, and will be stepping up to the new H145 version – the world’s most modern police rotorcraft. Launch customer for the H145 in its law enforcement version is the Baden Württemberg Police Force. In France, the French Gendarmerie operates more than 50 helicopters, including AS350s, H135s, and EC145s, while the Sécurité Civile operates 34 EC145s.

Since the late 1990s, the German Federal Police has operated H155 helicopters, which are well equipped with day-and-night vision cameras, powerful searchlights and loud-hailer systems, among other equipment. This service’s air wing helicopter fleet also includes H135s, which have logged more than 100,000 flight hours for police work, disaster control, and air rescue operations; and the AS332 L1 Super Puma for long-haul operations.

Other European law enforcement operators are the French Gendarmerie, which has 60 years of experience operating Airbus helicopters; the London Metropolitan Police, with EC145s; and the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Air Support Unit, flying the H135 and EC145.

Law enforcement (focus on Africa)

Airbus Helicopters’ AS350 B3 (an early version of the H125) has become the reference helicopter for airborne police units in sub-Sahara Africa, where they are flown in Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa. In Namibia, the Police Force’s Air Wing operates both the AS350 B3 and EC145.

Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft are on the front lines of a battle that is specific to Africa: the killing of animals such as rhinos and elephants, which often carried out by groups armed with automatic or military-type weapons. In taking the fight airborne in order to identify and interdict such acts of poaching, the South African National Parks utilize AS350s, which operate along with H125s of the South African Police and BK117s flown by the South African Air Force.