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Police fixed wing fleet temporarily relocated to Leeds Airport

Termination of the lease at Doncaster “very much against our wishes” says NPAS as search for permanent base continues

The National Police Air Service fixed wing operations will temporarily relocate to Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) as a result of the closure of Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA).

The final operational flight left the DSA airfield on the evening of Tuesday 15 November 2022 to assist South Yorkshire Police and Lincolnshire Police. 

According to NPAS the move will have no impact on its helicopter fleet, which provides air support from 14 bases across England and Wales.

It said "work continues" to identify a permanent new base for the fixed wing fleet.

Earlier this year it was announced that West Yorkshire Police’s hosting of NPAS will continue for two years longer than planned because the governance bodies that run the police service’s ‘national airline’ and the Home Office have been unable to find another force to host it.

Last year West Yorkshire’s mayor Tracy Babin gave the statutory 12 months notice period for hosting all NPAS aircraft and airbases on behalf of the other 42 forces which would have meant new arrangements would be in place by June 15.

The move of the fixed fleet to LBA follows Doncaster Airport owners  Peel Group’s decision to close it, effectively terminating the NPAS lease at DSA.

NPAS described the move as "a short-term arrangement" to allow sufficient time for NPAS to identify a more suitable permanent base for the crew and aircraft.

NPAS Chief Operating Officer and Accountable Manager Chief Supt Vicki White said: “Termination of our lease at Doncaster Sheffield Airport was very much against our wishes.

"We are doing all we can to minimise disruption as we move operations temporarily to Leeds Bradford Airport. We expect that all the extra costs created by the early termination of our lease will be met by Doncaster Sheffield Airport.”

Since 1 April 2022 (to 10 November 2022), the fixed wing crews have been deployed 648 times, in support of 41 different police forces, with a total flying time of 515 hours.

The aeroplanes have the capability of remaining airborne for up to eight hours and provide air support across the whole of England and Wales.

Currently, a Base Manager, six Tactical Flight Officers and four pilots are employed in the fixed wing team. They will all relocate to the temporary Leeds base.

There are plans to recruit additional pilots in the future.

Arrangements have been put in place for planned engineering on the fixed wing aircraft to be carried out, when required, at LBA and also at Bournemouth Airport (BOH).

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