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 generates approximately 80% of the Division’s total flight time.

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

When an LAPD helicopter is over the scene:

▪ Fewer ground-based officers are required at crime scenes and perimeters.
▪ Ground-based officers have a significantly increased level of safety.
▪ Ground-based officers are kept in tactical advantage and out of questionable situations.
▪ Vehicle pursuit management improves by reducing risk to Department and community.
▪ Injuries and deaths are related to traffic collisions are reduced.

Benefits of the helicopter allows ground-based officers available for assignment and response to community concerns.

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

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

▪ Department field operations, especially geographic patrol divisions.
▪ Tools utilized include the high-powered night sun, gyro stabilized binoculars and FLIR (infrared) for not only catching criminals but also for locating missing or endangered persons. Other tools include a GPS moving map display, stolen vehicle tracking system (LOJACK) also videotaping and downlink capabilities.
▪ Immediate needs of specialized entities: Metro K-9 Unit, Bomb Squad, Underwater Dive Unit, The Mounted unit, The Mounted unit, Robbery/Homicide command staff and officer transport to crime scenes, priority photo reconnaissance and more.
▪ Assisting with LAPD’s Emergency Operations Command Center responding to major disasters. ASD provides a comprehensive Damage Assessment Program, Command and Control, airborne 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, slide show presentations, and more.


(Last updated 06/05/2023)