Air Support Missions

Air Support Division missions are designed exclusively to achieve department goals as they relate to community service and officer safety. Primarily, ASD missions are conducted as part of (ASTRO) Air Support to Regular Operations or (SFS) Special Flights Section. ASTRO is the primary function at ASD. It has generated approximately 80% of the Division’s total flight time.

An ASTRO aircrew consists of a Command Pilot and a Tactical Flight Officer (TFO). The aircrew monitors citywide police radio frequencies, responds to calls for service and make aerial observations based on their experience as police officers. In effect, ASTRO is a patrol car in flight. Our motto is, “The mission is the same, only the vehicle has changed.”

When an LAPD helicopter is overhead:

▪ Fewer ground-based officers are required at crime scenes and perimeters.
▪ Officers have a significantly increased level of safety.
▪ Officers maintain a tactical advantage and suspect apprehension improves.
▪ Vehicle pursuit management improves by reducing risk to Department and community.
▪ Injuries and deaths related to pursuit traffic collisions are reduced.

The Special Flights Section (SFS) was created in 1976 to provide surveillance and support for detectives and investigative operations. Special Flights has become critical to the capture and disruption of high risk suspects and organized crime. Special Flights is a significant asset in the seizure of guns, deadly weapons and drugs.

Beyond ASTRO and SFS, Air Support Division missions are comprehensive and provide assistance to:

▪ Department field operations, particularly geographic patrol divisions.
▪ Tools utilized include the high-powered night sun, gyro stabilized binoculars and FLIR (infrared) for apprehending criminals, and locating missing or endangered persons.
▪ Other tools include a GPS moving map display, stolen vehicle tracking system (LOJACK) and downlink capabilities.
▪ Specialized entities such as: Metro K-9 Unit, Bomb Squad, Underwater Dive Unit, The Mounted unit, Robbery/Homicide, reconnaissance and more.
▪ LAPD’s Emergency Operations Command Center by responding to major disasters.
▪ IC for Command and Control, video and microwave downlink, crowd estimates and crowd control.
▪ Department training activities such as Recruit Training, Police Service Representative training and Sergeant’s School Training.
▪ Department’s community-based policing activities such as neighborhood watch meetings, public meetings, tours, and “Open House” events.
▪ Department’s recruitment activities such as (static) displays of aircraft, community job fairs, career panel discussions and slide show presentations



(Last updated 09/14/2023)