New Airbus H145 for Sûreté du QuébecText and photography by Claude La FrenièreThe Sûreté du Québec (Quebec Provincial Police) has modernized its helicopter fleet with the addition of a state-of-the-art Airbus H145 helicopter.On May 7, 2021, the Sûreté du Québec's new Airbus H145 helicopter, registration C-GSQP and callsign QUEBEC-145, arrived at its operational base at Saint-Hubert Airport (CYHU) with its new official colours.

It joined two other helicopters in the Sûreté du Québec fleet: a Bell 206B Jet Ranger purchased in 1980 and a Bell 412 purchased in 2002.

Painted in new black and white Sûreté du Québec colours, the design team has succeeded in harmoniously integrating the old Sûreté du Québec heritage colours of khaki green and yellow into a very modern and eye pleasing visual design.

The Government of Quebec purchased this used Airbus H145 helicopter through the Government Air Service (SAG), which manages all aircraft owned by the Government of Quebec, on August 20, 2020.

The helicopter was manufactured in 2016 and had a low number of hours of use at the time of its purchase, (which according to our information would be a little less than 850 hours). For those in the aviation industry this is considered very reasonable and as almost new, considering the potential lifespan of such equipment.

The H145 will replace the Bell 206 LT that the Sûreté du Québec had been using since 1994 and was completely destroyed in a severe accident, fortunately without fatality, in January 2020. This happened during a search and rescue operation for missing snowmobilers in the Saguenay region of Quebec.
A controversial purchase

The announcement of this purchase caused a lot of ink to flow in the general media in Quebec, given the choice of a used aircraft, not to mention that it is an Airbus helicopter, despite the fact that Bell Helicopters operates a factory in Quebec and manufactures new helicopters there.

Some people were surprised to learn the price of CAD$13 138 000 paid for a used helicopter. However, the official representative of the Government Air Service of Quebec, Mrs. Émilie Lord, maintained in an interview to the Journal de Québec that it was a good price for a helicopter of this quality.

Mrs. Lord also mentioned that considering all the search and rescue equipment, with which this Airbus H145 is equipped, the specialists of the Government Air Service estimated the costs to acquire a brand new equivalent helicopter would be approximately CAD$22 million.

A destroyed helicopter had to be replaced and the mission of the Sûreté du Québec could not suffer from longer delays to fill its fleet. Decisionmakers opted for a used helicopter because it was already equipped according to the needs of the police force for search and rescue and was available quickly.

Compared with a brand new purchase, it is known that all the steps involved in the purchase of a new helicopter with all the equipment required for search and rescue missions, from the drawing up of the quotation to the delivery of the aircraft, could lead to delivery times exceeding two years.
History of the aircraft

This particular Airbus H145 (MBB-BK117 D2) S/N 20091 first flew in June 2016 with Airbus Helicopters test registration "D-HCBZ" in Germany.

On July 7, 2016, it was registered "I-MAKE" in Italy with the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) company ELI FRIULIA Helicopter Centre, which used it for search and rescue missions in the mountains of the Alps and at sea on the Mediterranean.

Then in early 2018, ELI FRIULIA leased the helicopter to the firm Wiking Helikopter Service GmbH in Germany, which used it for medical evacuations. Finally, it was acquired by the Government of Quebec in August 2020 and imported into Canada on September 25, 2020, according to the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register.

The H145’s mission with the Sûreté du Québec

This new helicopter is much larger and more powerful than the one it replaced. Its larger payload capacity and greater range will qualify it for a greater number of tasks within the mission of the Sûreté du Québec.

We must not forget that the territory served by the Sûreté du Québec covers more than 1,600,000 km² with more than one million lakes and streams, as well as thousands of rivers.

The Sûreté du Québec conducts daily night and day helicopter operations and its duties are as follows:
- Aerial search and rescue operations
- Search for missing persons in the forest
- Transport of troops and specialists such as intervention groups (SWAT)
- Transportation of equipment
- Evacuation operations (e.g. during floods)
- Aerial surveillance during events and demonstrations
- Tactical operations.

A typical Sûreté du Québec helicopter team includes a pilot (government air service), a pilot-in-command (government air service), a mission manager (SQ) and various experts: explosives technicians, divers, tactical intervention group, dog handlers and rescuers, etc.

At the Sûreté du Québec, there are four mission leaders. Their role is to plan the helicopter mission, ensure the safe transportation of passengers and cargo, participate in search operations for missing persons and operate the search and surveillance system as well as the winch system during rescue operations.
Commissioning and operational readiness

The H145 was delivered at Saint-Hubert Airport (CYHU) on December 6, 2020, by Airbus Helicopters Canada. It was kept unmarked and used until February 2021 in the yellow colours of its former operator, Eli-Fruilia. During that time, flight crews and maintenance technicians were trained.

In February this year, the H145 received its Sûreté du Québec livery. It then spent a few weeks at Airbus Helicopters in Fort Erie, Ontario, to undergo cabin adjustments to better fit its new role within the Sûreté du Québec mission.

An advanced helicopter design and a model almost unique in Canada for police use
This multi-role helicopter has technical characteristics that put it in a class of its own and it is only the 2nd Airbus H145 in service with a police force in Canada after the RCMP in Vancouver.

Equipped with the latest refinements and equipment in terms of technology, this aircraft met the general needs of its new operator, the Sûreté du Québec, and could be quickly adapted for its specific mission.

Compared to other helicopters in its class, the H145 combines all the latest technologies from Airbus Helicopters, including an advanced cockpit design, modern avionics, a 4-axis autopilot and a closed Fenestron tail rotor, with robust designs like the main rotor system.

According to Airbus, the Fenestron not only ensures greater safety for third parties during landing maneuvers or operations in dense urban areas and confined or congested spaces, it also helps reduce helicopter noise and allows higher speeds with less fuel consumption.

The Airbus Helionix avionics suite that equips the H145 series helicopter offers one of the most advanced man-machine interfaces available today. A 4-axis autopilot with GNSS automatic approach modes allows pilots to fully concentrate on their mission. Pilots also benefit from unique displays and an alert system concept for high environmental awareness in all situations. The Helionix suite includes a Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (H-TAWS), a Synthetic Vision System (SVS) with Digital Moving Map (D-MAP), and more. The H145 is IFR certified single / dual pilot with satellite navigation (SBAS / LPV WAAS / EGNOS) and ADS-B output.
A cabin offering great operational possibilities

The H145’s very large cabin offers excellent external visibility for pilots and crew. It is spacious with no bulkheads, center posts or door posts, and it offers significant side and rear cargo capacity among other things, thanks to its clam shell type rear doors, in addition to the wide side sliding doors.

This particular H145 has been equipped with a wide variety of equipment specific to the search and rescue mission, including an external hoist and rope lowering device (for one or two people), an exterior searchlight and an enhanced reality system (onboard digital video recorder and video switching unit). Its cockpit is fully compatible with night vision goggles (NVG) and night vision imaging systems (NVIS) to contribute to the helicopter's operational flexibility.

Note: Some exterior equipment’s like the hoist are not visible on the pictures; they will be reinstalled in the next few weeks.

Powerful engine

The H145 is a 4-ton class helicopter, an evolution of the EC145 with a 25% more powerful engine. It is equipped with two powerful Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 engines offering 738 shaft horsepower per engine.

Note: That there is a Turbomeca workshop in the Mirabel Airport area (CYMX) where engine maintenance can probably be done.

In conclusion…

Leaving aside the political aspects of this purchase, the arrival of this helicopter is welcomed by many at the operational level. It is obvious that the Sûreté du Québec's helicopter fleet has filled a need for many years to come and will be able to carry out its mission even more efficiently.
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