Photo: American Eurocopter.

Photo: American Eurocopter.

The Ontario (Calif.) Police Department's Air Support Unit has received its third AS350 B2 helicopter from American Eurocopter, which will join the fleet in December.

The aircraft will primarily be used for performing patrol and surveillance missions, according to the company.

"The AS350 B2 gives us the power, cabin size, and flexibility we need to accomplish our missions," says Sgt. Eric Weidner, officer in charge of the Ontario PD's Air Unit. "Because of these features, we have been able to create a spacious cockpit work environment even with all our advanced equipment, which allows our teams to operate at a higher level. The B2 is the right tool for the right job."

Each of the Air Support Unit's B2s is equipped with Spectrolab searchlights with 30 million candlepower, L-3/Wescam forward looking infrared (FLIR), and avionics for communication and navigation. Almost 80 percent of the unit's missions are flown at night, so outfitting their helicopters with additional high-tech equipment, including NVG capability, is a necessity.

"The AS350 family of helicopters is recognized throughout the U.S. airborne law enforcement community as a powerful and reliable platform that provides the performance and flexibility for a variety of missions and environments," says Ed Van Winkle, American Eurocopter's law enforcement market manager. "The AS350 B2 has provided the Ontario Police Air Support Unit with nearly a decade of service with low maintenance requirements and low cost of operation."

The Ontario PD's Air Support Unit was founded in 1989; it converted to the Eurocopter AS350 B2 in 2002. In addition to performing normal patrol and surveillance missions, the unit's helicopters also provide assistance to the identification unit for aerial photography, SWAT for specialized operations, the detective bureau, and narcotics unit. Occasionally, the unit assists other agencies within the city of Ontario.