Phoenix Police Air Unit takes Delivery of
Pilatus PC-12 Fixed Wing Aircraft
On Wednesday, September 16, 2009 the City of Phoenix and excellent short ﬁeld capability (STOL) and the design of its re-
more notably, the Phoenix Police Air Support Unit took delivery tractable landing gear gives it the capability of operating from un-
and became the proud owners of a new ﬁxed wing aircraft. The improved ﬁelds and dirt strips. The aircraft is topped off with a
plane, a Pilatus PC-12-NG was ﬂown in to Deer Valley Airport by state of the art ‘glass cockpit’ avionics package designed by Hon-
PPD Air Support Instructor Pilot Andrew Eagleton. eywell.
The plane as equipped was purchased for just over $4 million The plane purchased by the City will be equipped with a sensor
dollars. While many will immediately question an expenditure package for use during both day and night law enforcement sur-
of this magnitude during tough economic times and the budget veillance missions. The sensor package will be deployed through
crunch the City is currently in, it is important to note that the criti- bomb bay type doors in the tail section of the aircraft. The sensor
cal need for this type of aircraft, and its multi-mission roles, was package alone carries a nearly 1 million dollar price tag and will
identiﬁed approximately three years ago and capital improvement enable the crew to conduct unimpeded surveillance missions from
funds were set aside at that point in time for the purchase. high altitude using state of the art Hi-Def video and infrared moni-
In the summer of 2006, the City was working two crimi- toring equipment. Current Air Support Unit aircraft, due to their
nal investigations that were extremely large in scope in terms lower operating altitudes, were often restricted from performing
of manpower and resources. These were the Baseline Kill- missions in many parts of the City due to the congested airspace
er and Serial Shooter cases. During this time period the found around major airports such as Sky Harbor International air-
Department had to rely on other agencies for high altitude sur- port.
veillance support, due to the congested airspace surrounding the The primary mission of the PPD Pilatus PC-12 NG will be
metro Phoenix area and operational limitations of current smaller surveillance operations in support of ongoing police investiga-
Air Support Unit aircraft. These limitations identiﬁed the need for tions assisting a variety of Departmental details, with a secondary
the aircraft. The Pilatus PC-12 is currently being utilized by US mission of transporting investigative personnel around the state,
forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan for high altitude surveillance extradition of prisoners etc.
missions. Initial plans call for having four PPD air support pilots trained
The Pilatus is a Swiss built aircraft and is equipped with a Pratt to ﬂy the Pilatus with eventual plans to expand the number to six.
and Whitney turboprop engine rated at 1,200 Shaft Horsepower
with a variable pitch full reversing 4 bladed propeller. It has a 330 Editors Note: Special thanks to Ofc. Steve Gillooly
cubic foot pressurized passenger cabin with seating for up to 9
passengers and boasts a maximum range of 1,560 nautical miles
of the PPD Air Support Unit for providing many of
with 3 passengers. Max cruise speed is 322 mph and Max operat- the technical details included in this article.
ing altitude is 30,000 ft. The overall design of the plane gives it