The National Police Air Service (NPAS) of England and Wales is closing ten bases over the next two years following a following hefty cut to its budget. The publicly funded service, headquartered in Wakefield in the north of England, will operate 23 aircraft from 15 sites strategically located across the two regions.
Four helicopters will be replaced by the same number of fixed-wing aircraft “as they are cheaper to fly”, says NPAS.
Ian Whitehouse, accountable manager for the service, explains that NPAS is required to find “substantial financial savings” following a 14% cut in revenue over the next three years.
"It has not been an easy decision to move to a 15-base model," adds Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of the NPAS Strategic Board. "These are the sort of difficult decisions that have to be taken with the economic climate we are all operating in.”
NPAS was launched in 2012 with the aim of replacing localised police air support units with a centrally funded, borderless operation. The intention was to drive down the annual costs of running police air support by £15 million ($24 million) a year.
The bases facing closure are Durham Tees Valley, Halfpenny Green, Rhuddlan, Sheffield and Warton in the north of England; Husbands Bosworth and Ripley in central England; Pembrey in Wales; and Wattisham and Lippitts Hill in the south of England.
New bases are planned to open at Elstree, near London, and East Midlands airport, near Nottingham, where the four new fixed-wing aircraft will be based.
Source: Flight International