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-   -   NPAS News 2021 (https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/637792-npas-news-2021-a.html)

ShyTorque 17th Sep 2021 17:18

They were told to find a cheaper way of doing things ( and if I recall correctly, were seriously advised NOT to look at a national structure, as it would be too difficult to implement).
In spite of that they felt (and therefore recommended), that if they could make ‘X’ savings by regionalising, then they could ‘obviously’ make greater savings by nationalising! So we perhaps need to look a little closer to home. ‘We’ did this to ourselves.
Some forces already worked and funded jointly and also provided an ad hoc service to a force without their own ASU. It worked well.

handysnaks 17th Sep 2021 18:04

I am more than aware of how it worked Shy.😊
There were a number of forces who participated in consortia air units, who were quite clear that once the austerity cuts kicked in, their participation in air support was going to end. I think a lot of us connected with air support at the time, thought we might move to a number of multi-aircraft/ multi-base regions. Knowing that eventually those regions would drop one or more bases and one or more aircraft. But the savings would be spread out to all forces in the region and the drop in service understood and accepted by all forces in the region. Once the decision to have a national service was approved, the die was cast and here we are. :ugh:

The Nr Fairy 18th Sep 2021 07:38

As someone who lives in Wiltshire, the loss of the joint air ambulance / police asset was a blow. We do have a good service from the Air Ambulance, but the only time I've heard NPAS in the skies about Pewsey is when there was a car chase involved. And correct me if I'm wrong but the closest is either Benson, Almondsbury or Bournemouth now ? How do those locations affect the response times, especially if the closest choice is already committed?

ShyTorque 18th Sep 2021 07:54

Ironically, the unit I had most in mind was North Midlands and that is now an area with one of the largest gaps in “local” cover.

handysnaks 18th Sep 2021 08:24

And even more ironically, their two forces were pretty much top of the list to dispense with air support if NPAS didn’t happen.

ShyTorque 18th Sep 2021 09:11

Those two forces understood the benefits of pooled resources so it’s understandable that they wanted to take it a step further. Unfortunately, as we know, the whole thing was bungled at National level.

garlichopper 18th Sep 2021 20:28

The fixed wing plane has been venturing out of the Yorkshire & North East area a few times this week, so perhaps something has changed there finally with it's restriction to Yorkshire & North East calls. It seems ludicrous to restrict it's operating area when it's available and resources are stretched so thinly.

MightyGem 22nd Sep 2021 19:26

Originally Posted by J.A.F.O. (Post 11111648)
If anyone knows who came up with the NPAS song to the tune of American Pie, please pass on my congratulations and thanks.

Sounds interesting. Where can I listen???? :}

black.beard 27th Sep 2021 19:26

Originally Posted by jumpseater (Post 11111673)
I’ll have a fiver on NPAS fixed wing coming under 2Excel ‘special missions’ operations in the foreseeable future.

Transfer of assets and staff, and then operating as a sub contractor with Police staff/observers seconded. Primary base still DSA but with temporary tactical remote basing as required.

I'll take that bet. Although since you only stake a fiver, it suggests that you're hardly brimming with confidence.Wink If 2Excel take this on then be prepared for a drop in availability based upon the record with their Piper Navajos, failing to meet contractual requirements for the UK Coastal contract (which will not have escaped notice) - indeed a strong rumour that they have subbed out some of the work to the previous provider.

Some of the reason(s) why the FW has had a difficult birth centres large around a) NPAS being unable to organise a pish-up in a brewery b) a Rotary focused organisation and the FW is a thorn in their side c) Egos and Empire building of several CC/DCC's/etc, p1ssing in the pot within the respective Police Forces Districts

PANews 28th Sep 2021 18:27

I recall that when the tender for the maintenance for the fixed wing was decided by NPAS they rejected 2Excel in favour of Gama even though the former was located next door at Doncaster. A number of snide remarks in the 2Excel hangar over that at the time but, if we lose all sense of reality and assume that NPAS knew what they were doing, at that time they thought 2Excel were not up for the job.
It seems Black Beard has noted a lack of performance that others had not in the 2Excel hangar. Maybe, just maybe, NPAS got that bit right.
I will now go and sit and darkened room......

PANews 3rd Oct 2021 10:23

Well done Cabby.

No sign of that yet as a standard Kent Police Press Release.... I will have to ask them. It seems though that Acting Supt Wenlock is the man who makes certain things happen.... in one set of 2021 minutes I found that .....Volunteering in Kent Police

T/Supt Wenlock provided an overview of the presentation showing the innovations in Citizens in Policing, Special Constabulary, Speedwatch, Community Policing Volunteers, Volunteer Cadets and Policing Support Volunteers.

So he has a track record.

And so did someone else who was a Temporary Chief Inspector in Kent Police if I recall correctly. Watson was the name and he was deep into the South Coast Project of BAE Herti light UAVs over the English Channel a decade ago. He was also 'involved' in running the less than exciting Kent Police ASU [a couple of Cessna's] and then he went on to serve as GOD with NPAS, ahe looked after the ground aspects of the organisation. Although a non-aviator he made some pretty important decisions on fixed wing if my information is correct, before moving on to making cakes in retirement.

There is a worrying thread of repetition running through this storyline and Cabby could be right that this might be the next NPAS SE.

Strange really. For decades now ACPO and the NPCC have totally frowned on the activity being portrayed here. SkyWatch and its offshoots have been shunned, castigated and denigrated for offering to do exactly this kind of operation. Funny how everything flips back to the thoughtless schemes of ACPO and NPCC.

PANews 3rd Oct 2021 14:12

This could run and run. Well for a few days at least.

It seems that in this world of controlled news this one slipped through the net and the authorities are not too happy. The Kent Press Release and images are pretty much word for word as given in the local paper, a total paste job. But even though it is supposed to be 'on hold' Kent Police sent me the press release direct at lunchtime.

I hope they do not get their CPVs mixed up with their LDVs, shades of 1940, or every police station will be inundated with volunteers for the Home Guard air section!!!!

Sloppy Link 3rd Oct 2021 16:19

I suspect the CAA will have a view….

MightyGem 3rd Oct 2021 20:51

Candidate pilots must hold a private or commercial pilot licence appropriate to the type of aircraft they will fly – whether Group A, microlight, gyrocopter, helicopter or Group B.
Isn't that fairly obvious? :hmm:

Fuzz Burner 4th Oct 2021 10:25

You might have thought Kent Police would have consulted the experts before entering into this venture.......or indeed anyone with the slightest knowledge of police aviation in the UK. They would then know that this is a non-starter!

Fortyodd2 4th Oct 2021 13:05

Fuzz Burner,
Clearly you don't understand - All Senior Police officers are experts in everything simply by being appointed as such. Simply by asking for help and guidance from anybody else they spoil their chances of promotion or an OBE/QPM.
Their Golden Rule on being given any large scale project is to find out who has the knowledge and expertise in that particular field - and keep them well away.
Want an example of this? Look no further than NPAS - or Airwave, or it's replacement.

212man 4th Oct 2021 17:45

If you are not a qualified pilot you can still sign up by acting as an observer, partnering a CPV pilot and helping them to monitor incidents from the air.
What could possibly go wrong?

ShyTorque 4th Oct 2021 19:14

I hate to think the outcome of a volunteer pilot having an accident while flying on behalf of a police force.

aeromys 5th Oct 2021 10:22

Originally Posted by Sloppy Link (Post 11120701)
I suspect the CAA will have a view….

When a certain very wealthy Special Constable in Surrey attempted to set up a Air Support Unit crewed by himself and carefully selected Special Constables, using his own Gazelle, he was quickly reminded that he would have to fully comply with a PAOM and the idea quickly fell flat.

Democritus 5th Oct 2021 11:37

Originally Posted by Cabby (Post 11121264)
....Isn't there some other volunteer pilot group doing the same thing elsewhere.. Am sure I've seen it mentioned.......

Yep - Civil Air Support, formerly known as UK Civil Air Patrol, been on the go since 2000.


PANews 5th Oct 2021 19:08

Congratulations due to the two-man NPAS team [Paul Watts and Pete Botchett] who presented the 'Future of police aviation in the UK' to a full house audience at Helitech this morning. They managed to turn a pretty well worn pigs ear into something not quite a silk purse on the basis of not a lot and a very dated video.

The future it seems is BVLOS drones to replace the fixed wing fleet and eventually the rotary wing. Subject to a suitable type capable of Sense and Avoid [that so far has not been demonstrated as a done deal].

Unfortunately the type is not identified, but the RAF are about to take delivery of a nice thing with the comforting name Protector which I guess is about £100M a go, but NPAS will have to fund the upgrade of it to twin engines of course to meet the current requirements.
Another FIKI I guess.
There is of course one other option that already has twin engines, the Portuguese Tekever, but I am not sure that it would be too welcome over my house from reports received.

I do think that Protector RG Mk 1 (MQ-9B) is a much more cosy name than the earlier General Atomics Reaper (MQ-9A) and Predator... Ahhhhh. The police would further smooth out the name and perhaps call it a Cressida....

PANews 7th Oct 2021 14:31

I do not understand the question Cabby.

Civil Air Support operates using civil aircraft of various types offered in support of the emergency services. The crews are PPL and CPL with observers they select as worthy. The pilots are often the same people as might fly you to LAX or Bahrain flying their own precious machines on their day off. Alternatives are ex-military, transport, fighter, SAR, police and air ambulance pilots again on their day off, or in retirement, offering a service [often for free] to transport bloods and samples or in the case of Kent Police to report on the view from the sky.

Where do spotters feature? role. Many of our pilots are highly experienced, ex-military or from a commercial aviation background.

black.beard 18th Oct 2021 20:16

Originally Posted by PANews (Post 11121860)
Congratulations due to the two-man NPAS team [Paul Watts and Pete Botchett] who presented the 'Future of police aviation in the UK' to a full house audience at Helitech this morning. They managed to turn a pretty well worn pigs ear into something not quite a silk purse on the basis of not a lot and a very dated video.

The future it seems is BVLOS drones to replace the fixed wing fleet and eventually the rotary wing. Subject to a suitable type capable of Sense and Avoid [that so far has not been demonstrated as a done deal].

Would guessed that Drones may take over some police aviation roles but I can not see this occurring in the near future. Indeed what does a BVLOS drone offer over the current FW set-up? Would assume that more rotary assets would go before FW simply because a) they're cheaper to buy and operate. b) They're much newer therefore less maintenance /flying hr

tigerfish 20th Oct 2021 09:32

It all comes back to what is Police Air Support for? The prevention and detection of crime, and the prosecution of offenders against the peace. Prior to NPAS the 32 odd Police Helicopters were doing a pretty good job of that. Vehicle and street crime was down and an officer in trouble could expect top cover and support very quickly. Yes there were one or two areas that were behind in that but not too many. By 2008 UK Police Air support was one of the best in the world for effectiveness and immediacy. Then NPAS happened and it all turned to rats. The fleet decimated, bases closed, aircraft had so far to fly that they were usually too late to be of any use.
The once effective operational tool became unavailable for most incidents.
But even today it still all comes down to money or lack of it! Is it the case that saving life and property is less important than saving money? The accountant wins?
The real shame is that NPAS could have been so good. By delivering operational Police Air Support on a Regional basis, and using the National body to bulk purchase fuel, training delivery, bulk equipment Pilots etc, money could have been saved, and effectiveness improved. But no the only mantra was save shed loads of money and virtually destroy what had been achieved. With that the only consideration from the outset, UK Police Air support was always going to end up dead in the water.


MightyGem 26th Oct 2021 22:08

Just been watching Doncaster's UEO/Base Manager on ITV's The Chase. He and the team beat The Chaser to win £3000 each.

PANews 27th Oct 2021 08:11

Didn't they do well.... but it was £5,000 towards a trip to Italy [dunno when though!].

MightyGem 27th Oct 2021 22:30

but it was £5,000
Yes, it was. Typo. :O

PANews 5th Nov 2021 11:37

There are many times, far too many times, when it seems NPAS bring the world crashing down on its multiple heads through not thinking.

A few days ago The Guardian ran a story on how NPAS were seeking to operate drones at low level over the heads of the people of this country. The paper pointed out that Civil Libertarians were up in arms about the revelation. Now this morning they have run broadly the same story stating that.....Two Labour peers have demanded greater parliamentary scrutiny of police plans to use surveillance cameras mounted on drones after it emerged that forces across England and Wales could deploy the technology. Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of the civil rights advocacy group Liberty, has tabled an amendment to the police bill that would require the home secretary to approve the use of new “weapons, surveillance equipment or investigatory technology”.

All this results from an exercise they ran with industry asking about the capabilities of cameras in drones. The story was spoken of at he recent Helitech presentation at Excel London last month. It was not controversial and it simply laid out the parameters most manned airborne helicopters/fixed wing work to in terms of altitude. They added drone to the mix. NPAS do not fly drones, but they have this dream that they will one day and that they will operate them out of bases BVLOS.

They need to be forgetting all this tosh - it is just winding up people in civil liberties and they are mainstream politicians these days and so have the ability to vote down the new funds they need - and getting on with sorting out todays problems and operating a new fleet of aircraft.

Many in the drone industry see a workable BVLOS operations as being at least 5 years away and probably 20 years in the wake of public distrust of the aircraft industry post Boeing 737MAX.

MightyGem 5th Nov 2021 21:27

Typical left wing reaction. BVLOS operations? Just a dream.

handysnaks 5th Nov 2021 22:27

Two labour peers is hardly worth getting your knickers in a twist over MG, and I wouldn’t knock the left wing too much, just take a look at what the right wing are currently doing. They deserve much more of your concern.
When I read the press reports of the NPAS release, I felt that the reporters had misunderstood what BVLOS meant and seemed to think that the onboard systems would be able to ‘see’ beyond visual line of sight, (a much more oppressive idea), rather than the the whole package could be controlled beyond line of sight.
notwithstanding that, I’d double your 5 years unless there is a big change in airspace management (or global warming gives us 24/7 CAVOK.

Fortyodd2 6th Nov 2021 11:53

What you must understand is that, in Senior Police Officer Land, the earth is flat, the sky is always clear, the radios always work, the fuel is everlasting, maintenance is never required and the crew, as well as being psychic, never go sick or take leave.
So, from their point of view, why is it so hard???

MightyGem 6th Nov 2021 22:46

notwithstanding that, I’d double your 5 years
Not my comment, handy. :E

MightyGem 16th Nov 2021 20:38

Yes, Hogan-Howe.

MightyGem 19th Nov 2021 19:19

Originally Posted by gipsymagpie (Post 11068205)
NPAS Tender
So looks like 7 outside London and a service level based number inside (ie enough helicopters to provide a set level of availability). Similar to current or is that less?

H135T3H/H145D3 pairing has got to be near the front of the queue for this?


It would seem that the 7 aircraft outside of London are to be in addition to those that NPAS are operating at the moment as they have realised that after all the cuts, they now don't have enough to provide a decent service. :ugh:

J.A.F.O. 20th Nov 2021 05:43

Originally Posted by MightyGem (Post 11144574)
It would seem that the 7 aircraft outside of London are to be in addition to those that NPAS are operating at the moment as they have realised that after all the cuts, they now don't have enough to provide a decent service. :ugh:

If only someone could have seen that coming and warned them. I'm sure they'd have listened to people with decades of operational experience rather than deciding that they knew better.

tigerfish 20th Nov 2021 17:38

Its a bit Ironic that I lost my job in 2011 for daring to predict the result of the NPAS cuts!


PANews 20th Nov 2021 20:57

They ignored every dissenting voice and Tigerfish was just one of many. The other dissenting voices, also people with years of aviation experience, were simply sent back to division, to pound the beat or plan other things, for the rest of their service on one pretext or another. Tigerfish was unlucky in that he was contracted to work for a company with far too much to lose when it came to keeping certain senior police officers happy. It was easy to let him go.

That's life.

There are fortunately other ways of regularly cooking the NPAS goose but I just wish they would get their act together and take the future of UK air policing out of the gutter once and for all.


tigerfish 21st Nov 2021 14:33

Fully accept your comments Bryn. But the truth is that it could have been so much better! The concept of a National Police Air Wing was exactly the way to go. The ability to standardise training, engineering support , manpower and the fleet could have saved a great deal of money, the fleet size was about right as it was, but would have been made more effective by some re locations to give better coverage. BUT operationally it needed to be delivered on a Regional Control basis not solely from West Yorkshire. The reduction in fleet numbers catastrophic - The remaining aircraft had too far to fly to reach most incidents and as a result were not effective in their primary task of the prevention and detection of crime and the prosecution of offenders against the peace!
So bad did it become that control rooms stopped asking for the useless response. Yet prior to NPAS many an officer in trouble could expect top cover in a very short time. By 2008 the UK had one of the best air support capability of any Police Service in the developed world.
The way NPAS was rolled out destroyed all that in quite a short time!


MightyGem 21st Nov 2021 18:48

By 2008 the UK had one of the best air support capability of any Police Service in the developed world.
The way NPAS was rolled out destroyed all that in quite a short time!
Hear, hear!! :D

Coconutty 23rd Nov 2021 07:12

One of the other factors resulting in the reduction of service to Officers on the ground, was the removal of the ability of those Officers to contact the Air Crew directly, even if they could physically see one of the Fleet passing overhead ! Prior to NPAS commencing, the Midlands Regional forces ( West Midlands, West Mercia, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicester and Warwickshire ) had ALL of their Officers Airwave Radios ( no longer limited geographically like the previous UHF and VHF radio systems ) programmed with a single Air Unit "Hailing Channel", ( Known as "Talkgroup 88" ) which each of the four Midlands Air Unit crews ( West Midlands, Central Counties, North Midlands and East Midlands ) would monitor both at Base, and while airborne, and liaise using it. All requests were assessed by those Duty Air Crews and a response ( where appropriate ) was agreed and provided by the nearest available aircraft. This was extremely efficient, provided a fast response, and inspired confidence in those "end users". NPAS removed that facility and required all requests to be routed to their new Control Room, meaning that an Officer on the Ground had to : Alert their own Control Room and provide details of the requirement, that local Control room had to forward the request to the NPAS Control Room, the Task request had to be analysed and vetted by someone at the NPAS Control Room to determine if the request was viable. If it was the NPAS Control room staff had to assess which was the nearest / most suitable aircraft to deploy to the scene, then contact the relevant Air Unit, pass details of the request, location etc. to them and deploy them, as well as arranging / advising on the Communications to be used. THEN the Aircraft would deploy to the incident. This obviously created an additioanl delay in the end response, a delay that was NOT factored in to the original plans and "20 minute response circles" sold to the UK Police forces, which made a flawed assumption that at the moment of any request for Air Support, the Aircraft that ( might ) be deployed, was already travelling at 120 Knots ! This inevitable delay resulted in Officers on the ground losing confidence that if they requested Air Support they would receive it in a timley manner, and quickly enough to be effective. Often Officers did not / do not bother to call, due to a perception / the reality that it would usually take too long for the response to be of any benefit. NPAS of course can demonstrate how they have "improved effectiveness" by reducing the demand for Air Support. <Banging Head on the Wall Emoji ).

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