National Police Air Service (NPAS)

Role Equipment Information

Camera System

Situated beneath the nose of the aircraft, the camera system is equally effective day or night. It houses daylight and thermal imaging cameras, which capture video images that are then displayed on colour monitors within the aircraft. The camera system, while the most expensive part of the aircraft, is among the best in world. It is used to search rural and urban areas, not only to trace offenders but to locate missing persons resulting in numerous lives being saved.

NPAS currently uses two types of cameras, FLIR and Wescam.

SKYQUEST Digital Image Recording - Footage from the camera can be recorded onto Digital Flash cards.


Digital Downlink

Allows encrypted images from the aircraft to be watched on monitors with police command centres.


SKYFORCE Mapping System

Skyforce is a GPS based map display, navigation and task management system. All TFO’s are regularly tested on their map reading skills and this system is used in tandem with paper map books in the rear of the aircraft, so that service can continue uninterrupted should a fault occur.


NITESUN Searchlight

The Nitesun fitted to the aircraft emits a light equivalent to 30 million candlepower in a beam that can be varied in width. The beam is used to illuminate areas that are in darkness and is vital when searching for missing and vulnerable people.  Either the pilot or observer can control it.


TRACKER - A system for locating stolen motor vehicles.  It has been adopted by most police forces in the UK and is most commonly found in patrol cars although the system is equally effective, if not more so in the helicopter. It works by tracking a signal that is transmitted by a concealed device inside a vehicle.


SKYSHOUT Public Address System - Although not regularly used, the Skyshout public address system can be invaluable when important information needs to get to large numbers of people on the ground. It can be used during missing person searches, or floods, without the aircraft having to land.



The aircraft is equipped with a number of Airwave radios. This allows the crew to monitor and communicate with each other over the intercom as well as Air Traffic Control, the NPAS Despatch and Flight Monitoring Centre, and local and regional radio channels too.  Whilst operating at an incident, the crew can be listening to up to 6 different people talking at any one time whilst still carrying out their particular role in the aircraft.

For non-emergencies dial 101
In an emergency always dial 999