The Metro Police Department’s Strategic Surveillance Unit will be looking into ways it can expand use of the helicopter to improve safety and security. Picture: Danie van der Lith/African News Agency
Cape Town - The City is looking into expanding its “eye in the sky”.

The Metro Police Department’s Strategic Surveillance Unit will be looking into ways it can expand use of the helicopter to improve safety and security.

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith said: “This pilot project has also shown us that the use of the helicopter is far more cost-effective than we have assumed. So satisfied are we with the results of this pilot project, that we are in fact considering the feasibility of reintroducing helicopter flights to monitor daily traffic, given the challenge presented by congestion in our morning and afternoon peak periods, as well as crime combating and prevention in crime hotspots.

“We are discussing the option of a public-private partnership to make any future aerial policing even more affordable.”

The helicopter use cost the City about R250 000 during the festive season. This comes barely a week after the Cape Argus reported that the City’s fleet of drones was gathering dust, pending approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.

The City said it made use of a helicopter because it would provide a “global view” of the many public attractions around the city on priority days over the period.

The helicopter flights helped to detect and monitor incidents that could be a threat to public safety, and provided an opportunity to document and photograph areas of concern, especially around beach and the way it influences vehicular traffic patterns.

“The ground they were able to cover and the intelligence they fed back to their control centre made the investment worthwhile, and has given us a new perspective on the possibilities that come from aerial policing,” Smith said.

Executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman said: “The helicopter has proven to be a useful tool, especially over our peak season. We are investigating the future use for purposes of traffic management and accident response with a medical trained person on board.”

Spokesperson for the South African Civil Aviation Authority Pappie Maja said: “In terms of ZT-REJ (the helicopter registration number), it must be noted that this helicopter has a valid Certificate of Airworthiness and the owner has a valid Air Operator Certificate and therefore expected to comply with all the applicable South African Civil Aviation Regulations. These include the specified minimum flying height, which is 1000ft above the highest obstacle.

“Low flying over build-up areas and people, except under police and/or military, or through a specific permit, is prohibited.”

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