The current plan is to run 2 helicopters 24/7 from Lippitts Hill until 2016/17 when they will be moved to Elstree. The Engineering Section which maintains the helicopters has already been relocated from Lippitts Hill to Oxford
The National Police Air Service has confirmed plans to move to a 15-base model. The announcement means 19 rotary aircraft (helicopters) and four fixed-wing aircraft will be in operation once all the plans are in place. There are currently 23 aircraft in the NPAS fleet.
The underlying principle of NPAS is a national service, coordinated by a lead force in West Yorkshire for local delivery. The nearest available NPAS aircraft now attends requests from forces rather than under the old model where individual forces would own and operate their own helicopter in isolation. NPAS also means that there are reserve aircraft on stand-by in case any aircraft have maintenance problems. NPAS have already achieved overall savings of 23 per cent, amounting to £11 million
The Accountable Manager for the National Police Air Service, Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse, said:
"NPAS needs to find further substantial financial savings with a target of 14% of revenue cuts over the next three years. This is on top of the 23% savings already made. "Local police forces facing similar savings are looking at how they rationalise their estate and ways of operating and NPAS is no different in this regard. "There is no easy way of doing this and difficult decisions have to be made. On Thursday (19 February) the National Police Air Service Strategic Board therefore decided to move to the 15-base model.
"This move will help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the service and mean that every base supports police forces 24hours a day. It is a move based on an analysis of potential threat, risk and harm to the public we serve. "Part of the move will also see four fixed-wing aircraft form part of the fleet. These will be based out of the East Midlands Airport. Fixed-wing aircraft are cheaper to fly than rotary aircraft."
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Mark Burns-Williamson, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chairman of the NPAS Strategic Board, said:
"It has not been an easy decision to move to a 15-base model but these are the sort of difficult decisions that have to be taken with the economic climate we are all operating in. The Board have been assured that the performance of NPAS will be maintained in line with the needs of the forces and PCCs we serve as we move to a truly borderless tasking of the national air service, the Board will be robustly monitoring this transition and performance to ensure an effective and efficient service is delivered through this unique national collaboration."