New police aerial crime fighting capability sets flight in North Queensland

Published Tuesday, 16 January, 2024 at 02:00 PM


The Honourable Steven Miles

Minister for Police and Community Safety
The Honourable Mark Ryan

Townsville District Tactical Crime Squad (TCS) Senior Constable John Robinson

Townsville District Tactical Crime Squad (TCS) Senior Constable John Robinson


  • Police ‘eye in the sky’ officially launched and is now operational in North Queensland
  • Procurement has commenced for procurement for permanent POLAIR capability in Townsville.
  • The helicopter has already assisted police to track stolen vehicles, arrest offenders and locate missing persons.

Premier Steven Miles has today joined Police Minister Mark Ryan and local MPs Scott Stewart, Aaron Harper and Les Walker for the official launch of Queensland’s newest POLAIR helicopter – dubbed the ‘eye in the sky’ for North Queensland.

The POLAIR helicopter is now in operation ahead of the procurement of a permanent Townsville chopper.

The ariel equipment will assist police in tracking stolen vehicles, arrest offenders and locate missing persons to enhance community safety. 

The EC135 twin engine helicopter can travel across Townsville in just seven minutes.

The aircraft has a high-tech camera system with infrared, moving map and vehicle tracking to support law enforcement efforts on the ground, helping police effectively and efficiently respond to incidents and keep the community safe.

On board, a pilot, camera operator and police observer work together to assist crews on the ground.

Air Services Australia, police and air traffic control experts identified new technologies and capacities that enable the regular use of a police helicopter within Townsville’s busy airspace.

The government has also invested $13.3 million to enable the immediate implementation of digital encrypted police radio services in North Queensland. 

This radio upgrade is essential for protecting the methodology and movements of police in the sky and on the ground, to support safe and efficient police operations.

 Quotes attributable to Premier Steven Miles:

“I want Queenslanders to feel safe in their homes and in their communities.

“When Queensland Police requested POLAIR capabilities in North Queensland, I asked then to make a submission and we funded it. 

“It was literally the first funding decision we made after we were sworn in.

“Now it’s in the air and we are buying a permanent helicopter for Townsville. It can get anywhere in Townsville in just 7 minutes.

“The equipment is in direct response to changed offender behaviour and the need for police to quickly respond. 

“To every person in Townsville, our government has your back and is equipping your police with the tools they need to crack down on crime.” 

Quotes attributable to Police Minister Mark Ryan:

“The Queensland Police Service asked, and we immediately acted. 

“The Government has a strong record of supporting police with the equipment, resources and laws that they need to help keep Queenslanders safe. 

“This new investment will equip our North Queensland officers with a major resource to protect the public.

“I commend police for bringing this request to government and I know this new aerial capability is already making a difference in Townsville and beyond.” 

Quotes attributable to Deputy Commissioner Cameron Harsley:

“Our officers across North Queensland work tirelessly to protect their communities.

“This new aerial capability is a tool which will bolster these efforts, and not only help police do their jobs safely, but support them to keep Townsville safe.

“Already the interim aircraft has helped locate a missing child and assisted police with arrests.

“We look forward to the progress of a dedicated Polair helicopter, to permanently support the safety of both police and North Queenslanders.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Police Union Vice President, Shane Prior: 

“A dedicated police helicopter for Townsville will deliver enhanced situational awareness for frontline police and provide high quality video evidence to assist with prosecuting offenders.

“The QPU advocated for a helicopter with a police observer on board, equipped with advanced camera optics including infra-red capability, search light and supporting technology to provide live stream vision from the air to tactical commanders on the ground and Police Minister Mark Ryan, with the support of the Premier continued with his policy of listening to what frontline police require. 

“The QPU will provide feedback to Government from frontline police on the operational effectiveness of the contracted helicopter so the best equipment and practices are in place for delivery of the permanent POLAIR capability for Townsville.”

Quotes attributable to Townsville MP Scott Stewart: 

“We are already seeing outstanding results in the short time since this helicopter has been operating helping combat crime along with assisting in a range of operations which is why we have invested in this new asset.”

Quotes attributable to Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper:

“We will always  back the police with the resources they need and I’m proud to be part of a government that backs community safety and our police service.”

Quotes attributable to Mundingburra MP Les Walker: 

“Technology is an increasingly important part of modern policing and this investment adds to the Queensland Police Service’s capabilities in Townsville.”

Further information

Vision: Police aerial crime fighting capability sets flight in North Queensland

 Townsville police have released vision from the contracted helicopter assisting police operations in Townsville, and two recent incidents it assisted with.

 The helicopter assisted police with the search for an 11-year-old boy, successfully locating him safe and well sitting in a shallow creek bed near Jensen.

 It’s assisted with tracking a 25-year-old West End man who allegedly ran from police at Garbutt, providing advice to police crews on the ground, resulting in a quick arrest.

 The man was charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle, in relation to a Volvo XC60 stolen from Idalia. He has been remanded in custody with his matter next expected to be heard before Townsville Magistrates Court on February 2.