Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find some frequently asked questions about the helicopter:
Q. What kind of helicopter does Northumbria Police use?
A. A Eurocopter EC135T2 is used by the North East Air Support unit and is fully equipped for police operations.
Q. How fast can the helicopter fly?
A. This depends very much on the type of operation the helicopter is conducting. Although it has a maximum speed of 155kts it will often cruise at around 120-130kts. This means that it can cover two miles every minute.
Q. How long can it remain airborne?
A. This will depend on the type of operation the helicopter is conducting and what equipment it is carrying. The helicopter has a maximum endurance of three hours.
Q. How often does it have to be serviced?
A. As helicopters are mechanically complex aircraft servicing is essential. The helicopter receives maintenance inspections every 100 flying hours. More major checks are carried out after 400 and 800 hours of flying. The aircraft is also subject to an annual inspection.
Q. Why are police helicopters the colour they are?
A. The helicopter is painted in a way so that it can be seen by other aircraft when flying. The yellow shows up against the ground to an aircraft flying above while the dark blue contrasts against the sky to an aircraft alongside or below.
Q. Does the helicopter have a registration number, like a car?
A. Yes, every aircraft has a registration number. The registration for the North East Air Support Unit is G-NEAU and can be found next to the tail rotor which is enclosed and called a fenestron.
Q. Do police officers pilot the helicopter?
A. No. The pilots are contracted into the unit. They all have extensive experience of flying military helicopters.
Q. How much fuel does it use?
A. This depends on the type of flying the aircraft is conducting. Hovering on hot summer days will use more fuel than carrying out slow orbits. On average the aircraft will use 237 litres of fuel per hour.
Q. How can I find out why the helicopter was flying over my area?
A. You can visit our Helicopter Watch - What has the helicopter been doing in your area? page which gives details of the tasks the helicopter has been assigned.
Q. Is the helicopter allowed to fly over residential areas at night?
A. Yes. The helicopter is a useful resource in the dark, particularly with its thermal imaging equipment which allows the crew to see at night into inaccessible areas. Crews do try to keep noise to a minimum, especially at night over residential areas, and will leave the scene of an incident as soon as possible. The crews provide a service to operational officers and the public and the decision to call out the helicopter is always taken seriously to ensure that a proportionate response is applied, day and night.