RCMP's air fleet by the numbers

A report released Monday questions some aspects of the RCMP's operation of its aircraft. We take a closer look at the force's fleet, which has been around since 1937 and today comprises 39 airplanes and helicopters used for everything from surveillance to transport.

Air Services Branch of police force has 39 aircraft and a staff of 150

An RCMP helicopter searches for a gunman in Moncton, N.B., who killed three officers in June 2014. The police force has nine helicopters and 29 other types of aircraft in its air fleet. (Marc Grandmaison/Canadian Press)

Prior to the release of Monday's report into questions surrounding the RCMP's operation of its aircraft, not many people realized the police force had its own fleet of planes, but it has, in fact, been around since 1937.

Today, the fleet comprises 39 aircraft distributed across 19 bases, or air sections, throughout Canada.

The types and number of fixed and rotary wing aircraft that make up the fleet are:

  • Pilatus — 16
  • Cessna — 12
  • Eurocopter — 9
  • De Havilland Twin Otter — 1
  • Kodiak Quest — 1 

The fleet also had a Piaggio Avanti P180, but it was sold in July 2014.

The RCMP uses the aircraft for:

  • Northern and regional patrols and surveillance.
  • Transport of personnel, evidence and supplies — including into northern and remote locations where air travel may be the only means of transport. 
  • Searches.
  • Transport of emergency response and containment teams.
  • Operational support for front-line officers.

The Air Services Branch of the force employs 150 people, including 78 pilots, and 49 aircraft maintenance engineers and avionics technicians, and in 2012/13 cost about $30 million to operate.