Air support ‘Eagle’ unit

Eagle Air Support helicopters flying over Auckland City.

The Eagle crew

Eagle normally operates with a crew of three - a civilian pilot, and two observers, both observers are sworn police officers. A crew of three allows the pilot to concentrate solely on flight safety, flying the aircraft while maintaining separation from other air traffic, while the observers concentrate on the action below.

Eagle’s uses

The primary use of the aircraft is as an airborne observation platform. From their vantage point in the sky the crew are able to readily coordinate the operations of ground units. This is particularly valuable where persons of interest are still present at an incident, either on foot or in vehicles. Once the aircrew have visual contact with these people, or targets, they are able to manoeuvre the ground units into position to best deal with the incident, or make an arrest.

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The Eagle base

The Air Support Unit based at the Mechanics Bay heliport on the Auckland waterfront has been in operation since 1988. 

Originally flying a single engine Bell Jet ranger helicopter, the unit has been operating twin engine Aerospatiale AS355F1 aircraft since July 1989. When not engaged on a specific task or operation the aircraft is on immediate standby on the ground.

Eagle’s onboard equipment

The aircraft are equipped with gyro stabilised binoculars, which are used to counter the effects of vibration in the aircraft.  Forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera, night vision equipment, and a night sun spotlight.  

Eagle also has a comprehensive array of VHF and UHF radio equipment for communication with Air Traffic Control, Police, Fire and other agencies. For navigation the aircraft is fitted with global positioning system (GPS) equipment which is integrated into a mapping program. 

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Contact information

Email the Air Support Unit using this Air Support - Eagle contact form.