The Western Australia police have taken delivery of a specially configured GippsAero GA8 Airvan for its air wings fleet.
The state government chose the Astra version of the aircraft to replace the air wing's Cessna 182 aircraft. It will be integrated with a range of electronics used to facilitate the service's surveillance needs, says GippsAero.
"The GA8 is perfectly suited as a standoff, all-weather surveillance, reconnaissance and patrol aircraft for law enforcement missions. It has been fitted out with operational equipment focused for drug searching, photography tasks, flood/cyclone relief drops, search and rescue and special missions," adds the Australian company.
The equipment is mounted within the profile of a readily demountable, RF transparent fairing with a close resemblance to the standard GA cargo pod, it says. This allows such devices to be discreetly packaged in a manner that is considered desirable by specialist operators.
The new aircraft will be able to carry twice the payload of the Cessna the air wing is replacing for the same operating cost. The extra space and payload allows the Airvan to be fitted with extra equipment which makes it more "operationally effective", says the pilot, Brevet Sergeant Warren Green.
The aircraft can also accommodate a FLIR (forward looking infra-red) camera that is already in use by the Air Wing's helicopter, thus further increasing the service's capacity in the skies, he adds.
Peter Scott, the officer-in-charge of the Western Australia Police Air Wing, says that because of the size of the state, the service has always operated a small single engine fixed wing aircraft.
"The introduction of the Airvan however, increases that capability significantly because of the payload now available. The greatest benefit however is the flexibility to put in specialised mission role equipment that is essential to a contemporary police aviation operation," he adds.