RCMP back in the air to nab speeders on Alberta highways

Police in Alberta are taking to the air to crack down on speeding on the province's highways.

Aircraft traffic enforcement resumes after almost 25 years

Police in Alberta are taking to the air to crackdown on speeding on the province's highways.

The Aircraft Traffic Enforcement program returns as one of the initiatives to make driving safer on highways considered high risk, said Supt. Howard Eaton in a news release Monday.

Using aircraft to patrol highways was one of the recommendations made in the June 2012 report "Towards a Safer 63," written after a devastating crash that killed seven people on Highway 63.

Aircraft enforcement has a long history in Alberta, but has been largely dormant over the last 25 years.  

It was introduced in the province in 1968, but was suspended in the early 1980s due to a shortage of aircraft.

It was re-introduced briefly in the late 1980s using private aircraft, but was quickly deemed to be too expensive.

In 2009 aircraft traffic enforcement was reintroduced on the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and the British Columbia border.

This year Alberta Transportation began expanding aircraft patrol locations, posting signs indicating the roadway is patrolled by aircraft and training RCMP officers and sheriffs as aircraft observers.

While those observers will be largely watching for speeders, they will also watch for other infractions such as following too closely, unsafe passing and impaired driving.

The primary aircraft to be used will be the RCMP's 2007 Eurocopter AS350 - A-Star.