Airbus H145 helicopter joins Sûreté du Québec fleet

Avatar for Claude La FrenièreBy Claude La Frenière | May 18, 2021

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 17 seconds.

On May 7, 2021, the Sûreté du Québec’s (Quebec Provincial Police’s) newly acquired Airbus H145 helicopter arrived at its operational base at Saint-Hubert Airport in its new official colors to enter into operational service in the coming weeks. 

Sûreté du Québec Airbus H145
The Sûreté du Québec’s newly acquired H145 features Airbus’s Helionix avionics suite, four-axis autopilot, and a Fenestron tail rotor. Claude La Frenière Photo

Bearing the registration C-GSQP, and answering to air traffic control by call sign “QUEBEC 145,” it joins the two other helicopters in the Sûreté du Québec fleet: a Bell 206B JetRanger purchased in 1980 and a Bell 412 purchased in 2002. It replaces a Bell 206LT TwinRanger that the Sûreté du Québec had been using since 1994, which was destroyed in a severe but nonfatal accident during a search-and-rescue operation in January 2020.

The Government of Québec purchased the pre-owned H145 in August 2020 through the Service Aérien Gouvernemental (SAG, or Government Air Service), which manages all aircraft owned by the provincial government. Manufactured in 2016 and previously operated by Italy’s Elifriulia, the aircraft had accumulated only around 850 flight hours at the time of purchase.

The CDN$13 million acquisition was controversial, with some questioning why the government chose to buy an Airbus helicopter rather than one from Bell, which manufactures all of its commercial helicopters in Mirabel, Québec, near Montreal.

However, in a Sept. 16 article in Le Journal de Montréal, Quebec Ministry of Transport spokesperson Émilie Lord maintained that a pre-owned helicopter could be acquired and placed into service in the framework of a mutual agreement contract much more quickly than could a new aircraft, which would be subject to a full tender process.

The H145 is much larger and more powerful than the TwinRanger it replaces. That will allow it to fulfill a greater number of tasks for the Sûreté du Québec, which is responsible for missions including search-and-rescue, aerial surveillance, transport of SWAT and other teams, and other humanitarian and tactical operations across an area of more than 1.6 million square kilometers.

Sûreté du Québec Airbus H145 Saint-Hubert Airport
The Sûreté du Québec’s H145 arrives at Saint-Hubert Airport in its new colors. Some exterior equipment including an external hoist was not installed for this flight. Claude La Frenière Photo

The aircraft was first delivered to Québec in December 2020 in its yellow Elifriulia paint scheme, at which point flight crews and maintenance technicians underwent a brief period of familiarization training. It was subsequently transferred to Airbus Helicopters Canada facilities in Fort Erie, Ontario, for upgrades specific to its new role.

The H145’s mission-specific equipment includes an external hoist, searchlight, and an augmented reality mapping system. The cockpit is compatible with night vision imaging systems (NVIS) to contribute to the helicopter’s operational flexibility. Its paint scheme features the new black-and-white Sûreté du Québec vehicle colors, while also integrating the agency’s heritage colors of khaki green and yellow.

A Sûreté du Québec spokesperson told Vertical by email on May 13 that “the helicopter is still in preparation by our members as to equipment gathering and installation on the new aircraft. During this time, officers and crewmembers are undergoing training with our new equipment.” The agency expects to do an official reveal of the H145 sometime around September, the spokesperson said.

The aircraft is the second H145 to be in service with a police force in Canada, joining one operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

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