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122 Airbus Helicopters support World Cup;

police pilot talks shop


From his perch inside the Ecureuil AS350 B3+, Commander Renato Babaioff had arguably the best seat in the house for the 2014 World Cup football matches that took place at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


But this helicopter pilot’s focus wasn't on the athletic feats unfolding below. As the Chief of Operations for Serviço Aeropolicial da Polícia Civil do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (SAER), the aviation division of Rio de Janeiro’s police force, Commander Babaioff’s sole goal was to support the overall safety of this international tournament.

Commander Renato Babaioff

Babaioff flew one of 122 Airbus Helicopters’ aircraft operated by Brazilian military and civil security departments for patrol, security and transport missions at the 12 host stadiums of the month-long 2014 FIFA World Cup, which started on June 12 in São Paulo, Brazil and culminated on July 13.

The Brazilian Air Force and Army relied on Airbus Helicopters’ Cougar, Panther and Fennec models, as well as the new EC725 Caracal. The Ecureuil is the aircraft of choice for the Police and Fire departments thanks to its aerial surveillance system, consisting of a long-range thermal imaging tool that records and transmits images in real time, thereby increasing the force’s ability to detect and identify potentially dangerous activities.

Commander Babaioff took time to speak to Airbus Helicopters during the tournament:

How does it feel to be part of this important global event? As a pilot, and as a Brazilian?

As a pilot, it is an opportunity to put into practice everything I learned in earnest during my 15 years with the civil police. As a Brazilian citizen, I am proud to work in service of society so that everyone can watch the games in safety and tranquility.

Which helicopters are you flying during the World Cup?

I am flying the Ecureuil AS350 B3+ equipped with infrared and thermal imaging cameras for aerial surveillance, and the AS355 F2 for passenger transportation.

What helicopter features are most critical for success during an event like the World Cup?

Having reliable and fast air-to-ground communication is a critical element, as well as having long endurance and skillful maneuverability.

How does covering the World Cup compare to other missions?

Of course for an event like the World Cup, a larger number of helicopters must be ready for deployment, but the general procedures we perform always remain the same. I’ve flown during the Pan American Games, however our mission at that time was to combat crime in the vicinity of the games, such as gunfire in the surrounding hills where the favelas are located.

How did the civil police force prepare for the games?

As there can be several helicopters flying around the stadiums at any given moment, we coordinated closely with the other entities involved, such as the Army and Air Force, to ensure we all fly in safety in this restricted area. The smooth operation of the World Cup mission isn’t possible without this collaboration.