There will soon be a new Eagle in Auckland's skies, with the arrival of three new police helicopters.

The twin-engine Bell 429 helicopters were officially launched at a ceremony in Onehunga today by Police Minister Stuart Nash and Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

Former All Black captain Richie McCaw, now a helicopter pilot, also attended the launch.

Bush said the new helicopters would increase the capability of the Air Support Unit. The helicopters could carry more passengers and fuel than the previous model, a Eurocopter AS355 Twin Squirrel.


"As a result, these Eagle helicopters have the capability to fly from Auckland to Wellington without needing to refuel."

The helicopters would continue to fly 24 hours a day - around 3300 hours a year.

In the past year, the Eagle crew had attended more than 6000 incidents in Auckland and further afield.

The Eagle team will now be based at the Onehunga site, moving from the current location at Mechanics Bay.

The police supplier was changed last year from the Aerospatiale helicopters, which had been used since 1989.

The new contract cost $42 million over five years, around $2m more a year than the previous supplier - which Bush said was "money well spent".

He said the new helicopter base was chosen because it was the home of new supplier Advanced Flight Limited, and not because of the steady stream of noise complaints from residents near the Mechanics Bay site.

But he noted, happily, that noise complaints had halved since the new base had been used.