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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Airborne Law Enforcement: Fighting the Good Fight

James Careless

Seeking out the bad guys with today’s innovations makes this year’s Airborne Law Enforcement Association a must-attend meeting.

FINDING WAYS TO KEEP AIRBORNE law enforcement capabilities a step or two ahead of the bad guys that are cost-efficient, politically palatable, and truly effective in the field is a constant challenge.

Many an agency air unit makes due with equipment that’s a bit too old or slight short of its particular operational needs (or more than slightly short). Such units become effective through the ability of their officers and staff to adapt their specific tactics and procedures to overcome the shortcomings of their gear.

These are key reasons why the Airborne Law Enforcement’s annual gathering, being held July 11-14 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., is such an important event. Not only does it provide a rich opportunity for police air unit members to exchange information and knowledge about effective tactics and procedures through formal and informal sessions. It allows them to learn about initiatives to upgrade their gear, such as the ALEA’s effort to win U.S. federal grant funding to replace old, surplus military aircraft with newer types built and fitted specifically for commercial markets and to upgrade their tactical airborne equipment as well.

It also gives those members a chance to catch up on the latest offerings of airborne law enforcement vendors, as well as the chance to buttonhole vendors whose equipment may have fallen short of the manufacturer’s promises and the operators expectations.

To help you manage your time ALEA, or follow up with vendors if you’re not attending, we’ve collected a sample of what will be at the show.

AerCorp Aviation Ltd. (www.aercorp.com), whose president and CEO, Darich Runyan, said provides comprehensive, turnkey air support programs to law enforcement and public safety organizations. The company does program feasibility studies, mission definition and mission profile development, complete unit-startup consulting programs, multi-agency contract development, tactical flight officer and pilot training, specific mission training, operational and safety audits, equipment acquisition and outfitting assistance, cost benefit analysis, and fleet modernization analysis. AerCorp also offers a web-based mission-tracking application.

Broadcast Microwave Services, Inc. (Booth 712, www.bms-inc.com) will be discussing the latest developments and applications of its line of air-to-ground, microwave downlink equipment. BMS analog and digital airborne transmit systems complement its newly released, high-definition product line. Transmit systems integrated into the aircraft communicate with units on the ground using portable, handheld receivers (for short range work) or ones mounted on tripods or fixed to a tower or building (for medium- to long-range distances). The company also offers diversity receivers for more sophisticated applications.

BLR Aerospace (Booth 519, www.BLRaerospace.co) plans to exhibit its patented technologies for improving the safety and operational characteristics of civilian and military rotorcraft. BLR holds more than 60 supplemental type certificates (STCs) for helicopter, business aviation, and general aviation aircraft performance modifications.

Breeze-Eastern Corp. (www.Breeze-Eastern.com) is promoting its 450-lb and 600-lb hoists for use by police helicopters in public-use and FAA-approved operations.

Known for its advanced avionics technology, Chelton Flight Systems (Booth 222, www.cheltonflightsystems.com) electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) will be sharing the latest details on its products and product improvements. These include an new utility to allow pilots to enter obstacle and hazards directly into the database for its synthetic-vision and terrain awareness and warning systems and programs to install its EFIS on versions of the Bell Helicopter 206 and 407.

EDMO Distributors, Inc. (Booth 1406, www.edmo.com) plans to showcase a wide variety of airborne law enforcement tactical products, focusing on tactical audio and radio systems from Northern Airborne Technology. EDMO is highlighting NAT’s new Digital Audio Control System, which is designed to offer many advantages over typical analog audio systems.

Flightcell International (Booth 822, www.flightcell.com) will be detailing its DZM Iridium voice tracking and data system. It is designed to deliver user-configurable, two-way voice and data communications via Iridium satellite or cellular phone, as well as "smart" flight tracking, anywhere in the world. For law enforcement helicopters covering remote areas beyond land mobile radio range, Flightcell DZM aims to provide a reliable communications pipeline, plus a way for dispatch to stay on top of their airborne units’ locations. Flightcell DZM says it has integrated global satellite phone, tactical radio, and cell phone communications plus GPS asset-tracking capability into a very compact and lightweight hub that can be installed in any aircraft, and easily removed for use elsewhere.

A respected provider of aviation training for both military and civilian aviators, FlightSafety International (Booth 212, www.flightsafety.com) is talking about agencies’ demands for mission-specific helicopter training and its efforts to satisfy those demands. The company is developing training scenarios to meet the differing needs of pilots and crew, as well as the unique challenges law enforcement agencies face daily in normal and during emergency-response situations. Training scenarios require pilots and crews to practice decision-making skills, a technique that reinforces flight principles and drives home the importance of ‘soft skills’ such as communication, teamwork, situational awareness and making safe decisions. Scenarios incorporate additional factors such as weather and night flight.

Frasca International Inc. (Booth 1214, www.frasca.com) is bringing its deployable MentorH flight training device (FTD). The MentorH is designed to help train pilots to fly single-engine turbines such as the Bell 206 or 407. According to Vice President John Frasca, the portable MentorH "allows for training in multiple locations with a transportable unit." For cash-strapped police departments, this can be a real plus.

Guardian Mobility Corp. (Booth 1130, www.guardianmobility.com) is spotlighting its Guardian Skytrax 3X. The company calls Skytrax 3X "a revolutionary GPS tracking system for aircraft owners, fleet operators and agencies who require a cost-effective way to track their aircraft." Skytrax 3X is integrated with both a satellite transmitter and GPS receiver in one unit, including all required antennas. With it, the company aims to help operators improve efficiency, situational awareness, and safety by monitoring aircraft movement in near real time.

Meeker Aviation Special Ops Equipment (Booth 913, www.meekeraviation.com) will be displaying its various mounts, isolation systems and new quick disconnect device. That device is a variation of Meeker’s popular Dovetail 2, which is designed for vertical sensor installs, specifically fixed-wing and UAV applications.

The centerpiece of the display at Microwave Radio Communications (Booth 126, www.mrcsecurity.com) is the company’s Tactical Receiver Case, a suitcase-sized digital receiver and picture monitor designed to give a ground crew a clear, bird’s eye view of the action. Based on digital technology, the company says, the device eliminates the distortion and signal loss found with conventional analog systems by using coded, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (COFDM) to transmit a compressed video signal over thousands of different carriers. It should allow departments to extend the range of digital downlinks from omni antennas on aircraft without the increased cost and complexity of GPS tracking antenna systems.

MRC is also showing its QuikVue HS handheld digital video receiver. The company claims this device is the smallest handheld COFDM/MPEG receiver/decoder in the industry. It features a high-resolution, 6.4-in LCD color video screen for active monitoring from a portable transmitter, making it ideal for situations where portability is a key factor, such as reconnaissance and crowd control. Weighing in at 6.8 lb (3.08 kg), and consuming less than 30 w, it can be concealed easily for covert operations and will interface with standard digital or analog monitors and recorders for enhanced operator flexibility.

Robinson Helicopter Co. (Booth 1522, www.robinsonheli.com) is promoting its R44 Raven 2 police helicopter, which the company says is completely equipped for law enforcement work. The R44 comes with a FLIR Systems’ Ultra 8000 Thermal Imaging Camera, Spectralab SX-5 Starburst searchlight, monitor, dual audio controller for police radios, and 10-in color LCD screen. Optional equipment includes a four-point shoulder harness system, P/A speaker, and siren, microwave downlink capability, Lojack, moving map, and a selection of UHF, VHF, and 800-MHz police radios.

Shadin Avionics (Booth 813, www.shadin.com) is showing its ETM Engine Trend Monitor, designed to provide comprehensive, real-time aircraft performance monitoring, fuel management and navigation data in one small, easy-to-install, affordable package. Using the ETM, pilots get in-cockpit real-time access to information on fuel remaining, projected fuel needed to waypoint, specific range and flight timer, current position, destination, distance and bearing, heading and estimated ETA. The ETM also automatically records maintenance data for later retrieval with its unique removable Datakey, making maintenance less expensive.

SRT Helicopters (Booth 528, www.srthelo.com) has a number of products aimed at police helicopter units. These include what it says is real-world operational training (initial and ongoing) for pilots and flight crews, technical rescue training that covers hoist rescue and short haul operations, crew resource management and human factors training, airborne use of force, and tactical officer flight training.

SRT Survival Systems USA Inc. (Booth 620, www.survivalsystemsinc.com) also aims to provide police air crews with realistic training through the use of its Modular Egress Training System. According to Survival Systems, this trainer is a configurable aircraft disorientation and full-immersion ditching training system. It is built into a realistic helicopter cabin, complete with aircraft specific emergency exits and exit mechanisms, movable interchangeable exterior panels, bulkheads and seats, simulated smoke and fire generation, and emergency equipment including life-raft capsules and a rescue hoist.

Turbomeca USA (Booth 502, www.turbomeca-usa.com) will be discussing its ongoing efforts to boost customer support and improve the performance and operating costs of its engines. A plan for producing demonstrator products (prototypes) has been initiated to accelerate the maturing process for the technologies that will be used by Turbomeca for new engines in the 500-3,000 shp range.

Selected by Air Methods Corp. as its preferred completion center, United Rotorcraft Solutions, LLC (booth 920, www.unitedtorocraft.com) provides aircraft completions and refurbishment, systems integration, and customized interior installations and exterior finishing on most model helicopters and some fixed wing aircraft. It also offers FAA-approved night-vision goggle-compatible lighting systems.

Bell 206L-4 LongRanger 4

Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce

Model: 250-C30P

Power  
Takeoff shp 650
Max continuous 557
Transmission Rating  
Takeoff shp 490
Performance  
Vne (kt) 122
Hover in ground effect (HIGE) (ft) 10,000
HIGE at ISA+20C (ft) 7,700
Out of ground effect (HOGE) (ft) 6,500
HOGE ISA+20C (ft) 4,200
Rate of climb (fpm) 1,340
Weight (lb)  
Max Gross 4,450
Empty - std aircraft 2,327
Useful load 2,123
Useful load with full fuel 1,398
External load 2,000
Gross with external load 4,450
Range (nm)  
Max fuel 324
Max payload 324
Aux fuel, no reserves n/a
Endurance, std fuel/no reserve 3.7 hr

Eurocopter EC120B

Engine Manufacturer: Turbomeca

Model: Arrius 2F

Power Rating  
Takeoff shp 504
Max continuous 450
Transmission Rating  
Takeoff shp n/a
Performance  
Vne (kt) 150
Hover in ground effect (HIGE) (ft) 9,250
HIGE ISA+20C 3,650
Out of ground effect (HOGE) (ft) 7,600
HOGE ISA+20C (ft) 1,700
Rate of climb (fpm) 1,200
Weight (lb)  
Max Gross 3,780
Empty - std aircraft 2,116
Useful load 1,664
Useful load with full fuel 947
External load 1,543
Gross with external load 3,968
Range (nm)  
Max fuel 395
Max Payload n/a
Aux fuel, no reserve 416
Endurance, std fuel/ no reserve 4.18 hr

MD 520N

Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce

Model: 250-C20RS

Power Rating  
Takeoff shp 335
Max continuous 324
Transmission Rating  
Takeoff shp 317
Performance  
Vne (kt) 142
Hover in ground effect (HIGE) (ft) 9,300
HIGE ISA+20C (ft) 5,100
Out of ground effect (ft) 5,600
HOGE ISA+20Cft 1,400
Rate of climb (fpm) n/a
Weight (lb)  
Max Gross 3,350
Empty - std aircraft 1,586
Useful load 1,764
Useful load with full fuel 1,332
External load 2,000
Gross with external load 3,850
Range (nm)  
Max fuel 279
Max Payload 210
Aux fuel, no reserves n/a
Endurance, std fuel,/no reserve 2.2 hr

MD 500

Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce

Model: 250-C18B

Power Rating  
Takeoff shp 317
Max continuous 270
Transmission Rating  
Takeoff shp 278
Performance  
Vne (kt) 130
Hover in ground effect *(HIGE) (ft) 8,200
HIGE ISA+20C (ft) 4,700
Out of ground effect (HOGE) (ft) 5,300
HOGE ISA+20Cft 1,800
Rate of climb (fpm) n/a
Weight (lb)  
Max Gross 2,550
Empty - std aircraft 1,088
Useful load 1,462
Useful load with full fuel 1,033
External load 1,550
Gross with external load 3,000
Range (nm)  
Max fuel 391
Max Payload 391
Aux fuel, no reserves 605
Endurance, std fuel/ no reserve n/a

Schweizer 333

Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce

Model: 250-C20W(derated)

Power Rating  
Takeoff shp 420
Max continuous 400
Transmission Rating  
Takeoff shp 235
Performance  
Vne (kt) 106
Hover in ground effect (HIGE) (ft) 13,600
HIGE ISA+20C n/a
Out of ground effect (HOGE) (ft) 11,200
HOGE ISA+20C (ft) 10,000
Rate of Climb (fpm) n/a
Weight (lb)  
Max Gross 2,260
Empty - std aircraft 1,140
Useful load 1,120
Useful load with full fuel 627
External load n/a
Gross with external load n/a
Range (nm)  
Max fuel n/a
Max Payload n/a
Aux fuel, no reserves n/a
Endurance std fuel/ no reserves 4.19 hr

Enstrom 480B

Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce

Model: 250-C20W

Power Rating  
Takeoff shp 420
Max continuous 269
Transmission Rating  
Takeoff shp 289
Performance  
Vne (kt) 125
Hover in ground effect ((HIGE) (ft) 10,800
HIGE ISA+20C (ft) n/a
Out of ground effect (HOGE) (ft) 6,500
HOGE ISA+20C (ft) n/a
Rate of climb (fpm) n/a
Weight (lb)  
Max Gross 3,000
Empty - std aircraft 1,693
Useful load 1,307
Useful load with full fuel 699
External load 1,000
Gross with external load 3,000
Range (nm)  
Max fuel 370
Max Payload 355
Aux fuel, no reserves n/a
Endurance, std fuel/no reserve 4.2 hr
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