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Law enforcement agencies have utilized fixed wing and rotor wing aircrafts to help enforce laws since the 1920s. This paper will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of fixed wing and rotor wing aircrafts. Take a brief look at some of the missions and technical equipments that are utilized by law enforcement agencies. Look in depth at two of their fix wing aircrafts utilized and how rotor wing aircrafts help save lives and enforce the law.
Since 1920, law enforcement agencies have used fixed wing and rotor wing aircrafts to assist in enforcing the law. In 2007, data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that large law enforcement departments provided aerial enforcement in the District of Columbia and 46 states. There were 295 airplanes and 604 helicopters being operated, which flew more than 330,000 missions. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/aullea07.pdf The types of airplane that are in use by law enforcement are Cessna 182, Cessna 206, Pilatus PC-12 Spectres, P-3 Orions, Citations, Learjets, Gulfstream jets, King Air 350s and 200s and some larger airliner-type aircraft. Some of the helicopters are the American Euro-copter EC120/130/145, AStar AS350/355N/350 B2, Dolphin HH-65C, Blackhawk UH-60, Maverick, Raven II R44, Cayuse OH-6 and McDonnell Douglas MD 600. The types of missions these aircrafts conduct are surveillance, drug interdiction, fugitive searches, routine patrol or support, search and rescue, personnel transport, prisoner transport, SWAT operation, traffic enforcement, speed enforcement, homeland security, photographic, medical support and evacuation. Both types of aircrafts have their advantages and disadvantages in airborne law enforcement. http://www.kansas.com/2010/08/01/1427779/aviation-sees-growth-in-law-enforcement.html. The advantages that helicopters have over fixed wings are they can land and take off without the need for run ways. Their airfoil shape rotors are like the wings of an airplane, as the rotor spins, air flow faster over the tops of the blades than underneath, thus creating lift for flight. Their unique rotor design allows for them to takeoff vertically, fly in any direction and hover over an area. Their ability to hover provides coverage for ground units and are able to land in assisting in foot pursuits. Helicopters can be equipped with a winch for the purpose of lowering or picking up personnel or equipments on the ground. It is valuable asset in conducting rescues at sea or on mountains, where there is no place to land. Its size allows for maneuverability around tall structures at lower altitudes. manhttp://library.thinkquest.org/J0112389/helicopters.htm. The helicopters are force multipliers for ground units, because they can monitor the tactical environment, give alerts or observe things which the ground units are unable to detect. Additionally, they can respond and cover ground more quickly than ground units. The flight deck of a helicopter can be equipped with multiple electronic equipments. Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) also know as glass cockpit that provides flight and system information to the crew, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera allows the crew to see images created from infrared energy, moving map system show their location, satellite phones provide direct communication, digital video downlink gives real time images, night vision goggles can be used in low light situation, loudspeakers for communication or message deliver to the ground, tear gas dispensers help control crowds, police and aviation radios keep the crew in contact with other officers and air traffic controls . The equipments aboard the helicopters are vital in helping enforcing the law as the incident on the 14th of November 2008, when the San Diego Police Department helicopter used the FLIR camera video to help indict a man for beating another man with a crutch in the middle of the street at night. Without the FLIR system they would have not been able to see the incident happening. http://www.policeone.com/police-products/tactical/night-vision/videos/5954944-police-helicopter-catches-bizarre-street-fight-on-flir-camera On the night of 30th January 2013, a 60 year old captain of the Panamanian cargo ship Gray Shark was having a heart attack. The NYPD police responded to the emergency call and conducted a dramatic nighttime helicopter rescue in New York Harbor. The NYPD harbor medical team stabilized the captain before calling in the help of a police helicopter to airlift him off the ship. A basket was lowered from the helicopter to hoist him up and then flew him to Staten Island University Hospital North where he was listed in stable condition. This rescue shows one of the many advantages that a rotor wing aircraft posses. http://www.ny1.com/content/top_stories/176246/police-helicopter-rescues-ship-captain-who-was-having-a-heart-attack The disadvantages helicopters have are that they cost more to operate and maintain. A fully equipped helicopter can cost from $500,000 to $3 million to purchase and the flying costs ranges from $200 to $400 per hour. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-09-30- cophelicopters_N.htm Maintenance, fuel, leasing and financing cost are three times then the cost that of operating and maintaining airplanes. Its abilities to fly lower and hover creates noises that are easily detectable. The capacity of passengers that a helicopter can carry is limited and varies from type. The Robinson RA-44 can carry 2 to 4 personnel and others like the Blackhawk UH-60 can carry 11 personnel or the Bell UH-1 that can be configured to carry 15 personnel. The general commercial helicopters in the law enforcement agencies have a flight time of two to four hours, with top speed from 50 to 200 knots and an average range of about 200 miles. The operations of fixed wing aircraft have some advantages over rotor wing aircrafts in law enforcement. They can perform a wide range of missions which requires them to stay airborne longer then a rotor wing aircraft is able too. Fix wing aircraft can carry more payloads and engine performances are great then those of rotor wing aircrafts. Aero surveillance, homeland security, speed enforcement and transport of people or gear are mostly the missions perform. http://www.lawofficer.com/article/patrol/fixed-wing-aircraft-law-enforc They are equipped with a variety of high tech equipments just as their rotor wing counterparts. The cabins are pressurized and allow for higher altitude flights, which enables them to conduct surveillance 5,000 ft to 6,000 ft and not be undetected. The costs to maintain and operate a fixed wing aircraft are cheaper than rotor wing aircrafts. On average per flight it cost about $54 for maintenance and $45 for fuel compared to a rotor wing aircraft. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/aullea07.pdf One example of a cost effective fixed wing aircraft is the light sport aircraft. The general cost of the aircraft is between $60,000 and $130,000 to purchase. The cost for fuel and maintenance is only $50 per hour. They can fly at speeds ranging from 35 to 125 knots which makes them an excellent platform for performing a broad range of law enforcement missions. It can carry up to 500 lbs and travel twice as far as a helicopter. http://nij.gov/nij/topics/law-enforcement/operations/aviation/types-of-aircraft.htm One of the best aircraft that the Custom Border Patrol has in their inventory is the P-3 AEW Orion airplane. This is a unique aircraft is integration with the E-2 Hawkeye aircraft electronics and radar system, which allows for it to see surface and air contacts 200 NM in all directions. The aircraft has a large fuel capacity of 60,000 lbs that allows for flight time up to 10 to 13 hours on station. It has a maximum range at low altitude is 2,500 NM and at high altitude 3,800 NM and a maximum average cruising speed of 300 to 330 knots. It can carry a crew of 12 to 21 personnel. The normal crew consists of four systems operators, three pilots, two flight engineers and three maintenance crew members. They work closely with the Navy and Coast Guard to coordinate the location of drug smuggling boats or planes. The primary missions are interdiction, over water operations, surveillance and homeland security. The use of this aircraft between the Jacksonville, Florida and the Texas office have contributed to the capture and seizure of 50 metric tons of drugs worth a roughly about 2 Billion dollars since 2006. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqCtrB_FZvE The DA42 MPP (Multi Purpose Platform) GUARDIAN is a specially designed aircraft to carrying multi-functional aerial surveillance equipments. The advantage of this aircraft is its extremely low operating costs and its abilities to conduct surveillance operations. The investment in this aircraft pays for itself through the saving in fuel cost. It can operate at a wide range from a minimum of 75 knots to a maximum of 152 knots fully equipped. When conducting surveillance the aircraft can fly for up to 12.5 hours with refueling. At 50% power setting its maximum range is more than 1,350NM. Currently there is no other small aircraft that can match the flexibility of the GUARDIAN. The GUARDIANâ€™s design incorporates hard points located under the fuselage for mounting belly pods and uses a modular attachment approach. The nose section of the aircraft is detachable which allows for mounting nose pods. This aircraft can carry a gyro-stabilized, daylight and thermal video camera, digital aerial cameras and laser scanner, a micro wave up and downlink system with a range of more than 100 NM that provides high quality transfers, satellite downlink beyond line of sight, UHF/VHFradios and a military radios is part of the standard equipment onboard. The GUARDIAN also can operate as an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or OPV (Optionally Piloted Vehicle) that provide support abilities for longer operation times and if require to operations in regions that are generally too dangerous for manned aircraft to operate. http://www.diamond- sensing.com/fileadmin/uploads_airborne/files/DA42_MPP_web_v290108.pdf http://www.diamond-sensing.com/index.php?id=da42mppguardian Some of the disadvantages of fix winged aircrafts are that they require a runway to take off and land. It takes more time to assemble and brief the flight crew for the type of mission being flown. Congestions and traffic on the run way may delay on taking off or landing. Depending on the size of the aircraft the pilot or co-pilot are unable to see the other side of the aircraft. They are unable provide ground assistance as their rotor wing counterparts are capable of doing, such as land and assist in a foot pursuit. Unable to hover or perform orbits like the rotor wing counterparts they cannot monitor the tactical environment very well, thus unable to observe or alert ground units of what they are unaware of. This limits their ability to land on ships or areas where there are no run ways. A major tool used for search and rescue that airplanes are unable to carry is a rescue winch. Both fixed wing and rotor wing aircrafts have their advantages and disadvantages, but they are both very valuable asset in the mission of state and federal law enforcement agencies in protecting homeland security, defending the Nationâ€™s borders, fight against terrorist and enforcing the laws of the United States.