The Western Counties Air Operations Unit is a consortium of the Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire Constabularies which first became operational in August 1995. The purpose of the unit is to provide efficient and effective air support to both Constabularies.
The Western Counties Air Operations Unit utilises a Eurocopter EC135 helicopter that is fully role equipped for police operations that is jointly owned by both Constabularies. Although normally based at British Aerospace's airfield at Filton, Bristol, the helicopter can be forward deployed in support of specific incidents and operations.
The Unit comprises an inspector, a sergeant and eight constables drawn from both Constabularies. In addition there are several reserve observers who can be called upon should the need arise. All the observers are experienced police officers and are qualified to a national standard.
Four ex-military pilots, directly employed by the consortium provide the pilotage.