TThe Victoria Police Air Wing has a new toy to buzz its citizens with. So look out if you’re breaking curfew or holding hands on South Melbourne beach. A Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER has landed at Essendon Airport, and the Victorian Police are keen to get it into the sky.
Beechcraft will enhance the capabilities of Victoria Police
The Victorian Police oversee law and order across the Australian state of Victoria, including the state capital, Melbourne. That city is currently under a stage 4 lockdown and a nighttime curfew.
Jerry Siebenmark reported on the King Air’s arrival on Monday in AINonline. Victoria police aviation program director Ashley Bellamy told him in a statement.
“The King Air 350ER will undertake a wide variety of roles and enhance aviation capabilities of Victoria police.
“With extended endurance and range, it will complement our helicopters by providing a valuable, uninterrupted observation platform that will support police across the state.”
While police helicopters are a familiar sight over Melbourne, Victoria Police hasn’t had a fixed-wing capability for over two decades. But the Victorian State Government recently spent US$46.5 million to upgrade the capabilities of the Victoria Police Air Wing.
The Police Air Wing is also getting new helicopters
In addition to the Beechcraft 350ER, the Air Wing is also taking delivery of three Leonardo AW139 helicopters. They’ll replace existing Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin helicopters. The new fleet will feature high-definition cameras and advanced mapping and infrared camera systems. The Victoria Police Air Wing reckons their new aircraft will be the envy of police forces everywhere.
“The camera system allows us to zoom in and pick up registration numbers from a long distance, which enables us to fly a long way from the target and to provide support to the ground,” said Air wing Inspector Craig Shepherd.
The Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER comes from Textron Aviation. Skytraders will operate the plane. The extended range aircraft is perfect for police and emergency services. This particular plane is customized with an advanced mission management system, ground moving target indicator object detection, tactical flight officer workstations, tactical radios, satellite communications, and data downlink.
“The turboprop’s unique combination of proven performance, range, speed and ease of operation makes it a trusted platform for large law enforcement agencies like Victoria Police,” said Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Mission Sales for Textron Aviation, in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
Skytraders will fly the King Air for Victoria Police
Sydney-based Skytraders will operate the King Air 350ER on behalf of the Victoria Police. The mostly unknown airline has built a handy business providing specialist air services to various arms of the Australian Government. That includes operating an Airbus 319 down to Antarctica on behalf of the Australian Antarctic Division and ferrying asylum-seekers to detention centers. The airline also has long term contracts with the Australian Border Force, Special Operations Command, and the Victoria Police.
Meanwhile, with Melbourne Airport closed to inbound international passengers and domestic flights having slowed to a trickle, the Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER will be one of the few aircraft you’ll see in the skies over Melbourne these days. It is going to be interesting to see how the plane gets utilized over the next month or two.