The UK's National Police Air Service (NPAS) has begun a process that could see the operator acquire a batch of new helicopters.

According to tender documents, the provider has started a survey of the market to assess the availability, capability and cost of different rotorcraft types.

EC145 Met Police

Airbus Helicopters

Cirium's Fleets Analyzer lists the NPAS as operating a 19-strong fleet, all from Airbus Helicopters: 15 H135s and four EC145s.

The most elderly aircraft are a pair of H135 light-twins that are both 17 years old, although six helicopters in total are more than 15 years old.

The NPAS declines to comment on its fleet strategy. However, the tender documents list the "soft market engagement" as related to "aircraft renewal".

Given that the service has steadily shrunk in aircraft and base numbers since its inception, it is unlikely that any new helicopters will be used for fleet expansion.

When the NPAS launched in 2012, it had 25 helicopters across 23 bases, against 19 at 15 locations presently.

"NPAS's intention is to explore what is within the market to assist with a procurement strategy, should purchase of new aircraft happen," it says.

The market evaluation runs until 3 September.