Fixed wing fleet now operating from East Midlands Airport

Wednesday 10 January 2023

The National Police Air Service’s fleet of fixed wing aircraft is now operating from a new permanent base at East Midlands Airport.

The service was forced to find a new base from which to operate the fleet following the announcement by Peel Group in 2022 of the closure of Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA).

For just over a year, the fleet has flown from a temporary base at Leeds Bradford Airport, however, this was always a short-term measure until a more suitable solution could be secured. 

Chief Inspector Sarah Whitworth said: “We wish to thank the Multiflight team at Leeds Bradford Airport for accommodating us on a temporary basis, enabling the continuation of our critical, national service with limited disruption. 

“Credit also goes to our team of pilots and tactical flight officers who, despite facing significant personal disruption, have continued to deliver vital operations across England and Wales whilst assisting in the relocation of their base, and everything that entails.

“Thanks also go to the NPAS project team and the staff at East Midlands airport who have worked hard behind the scenes to establish safe operations from our new base.”

Flying operations from East Midlands Airport began on 26 December 2023. 

In their first two weeks of flying from the new base, the fixed wing crews have carried out daily airborne patrols and have been tasked to support 12 police forces, including West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, West Mercia, South Yorkshire, West Midlands, Gwent, South Wales, Humberside, Devon and Cornwall, North Yorkshire and Thames Valley. 

On 4 January 2024, the crew was tasked by West Midlands Police to help search for a lorry which failed to stop. Arriving on the scene, near the M42, within 13 minutes of being deployed, the crew locate two suspects.

On 7 January 2024, the aircraft was on patrol in the South West when the crew was asked to assist Devon and Cornwall Police with a missing person search. On scene in 12 minutes, the identified the missing man near a reservoir in the Okehampton area and directed ground patrols to him. 

NPAS owns a fleet of four Vulcanair aeroplanes. The fleet provides air support for all police forces, with the exception of the Metropolitan Police Service, across England and Wales. 

In the last financial year (1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023) the fixed wing crews attended 737 calls for service and flew for 687 hours in support of 41 different police forces. 

Unlike a helicopter, the aeroplanes can stay airborne for up to eight hours. 

This gives them great resilience – especially when it comes to policing large-scale events, protracted public order incidents and pre-planned, long-running operations.

It also means that once in flight, the aircraft can remain airborne for almost a full shift, transiting from one job to the next.