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Fire/Disaster Prevention

tachikawawaterdropThe crew of the Tokyo Fire Department’s fire attacker Eurocopter (Aérospatiale) AS332L1
Super Puma JA119B demonstrates the aircraft’s capabilities at its Tachikawa, Tokyo, base
in November 2013. After nearly 20 years’ service,
Hibari (Lark) 2 was retired early in 2020.

A nation that is particularly prone to natural disasters, Japan has aviation units in place that conduct the full gamut of emergency, firefighting and relief operations. Including that covering the capital, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 16 cities and 39 of the country’s 47 prefectural administrations operate these dedicated, helicopter-equipped units. The 40th prefectural unit formed in Saga in April 2020, and its aircraft was being flight tested in August (see Bulletin Board page) with a view to becoming operational in March 2021. 

Unlike the local fire department-controlled municipal units, which are independently operated, most prefectural governments prefer to outsource their aviation units’ operations to private company contractors. Maintaining a high degree of response readiness, units in the same region conduct regular joint training exercises that include the rehearsal and coordination of operations with Self-Defence Force elements.

J-HangarSpace will be winching itself down to delve into some fascinating aspects that will cover the aircraft, personnel, and operations of these units.

Hanamaki airport 110411A typical scene during coordinated disaster response operations. This is Hanamaki Airport,
Iwate Prefecture, on April 11, 2011, exactly a month after the Great East Japan Earthquake
triggered a tsunami that devastated large areas of the Tohoku region. Closest to the
camera is the Kobe City Air Corps’ then BK117B-2
KOBE-I, which is parked
alongside the Shizuoka Prefecture Air Rescue Team’s BK117C-1
Orange Arrow. Just starting up at the back is the AS332L1
Hakuchō 6 from the Tokyo Fire & Disaster Management 
Agency (FDMA) Flying Unit.
(Photo: 402SQC-1 via Wikimedia Commons)

In the meantime, as a temporary measure, tables listing the aircraft operated by each municipal or prefectural aviation unit have been added below. Interspersed with a growing number of photographs (indicated in bold type in the tables) and details of the aircraft markings, these will eventually serve as a separate Data File page.

In the case of the prefectural units, J-HangarSpace retains the name derived from the organisation under which each unit operates, officially known in English as a Disaster Prevention Bureau; it would be more accurate to refer to them as something like disaster relief aviation units. A unit’s unofficial English name, if any, appears after the formation date.

Please note that the in service date(s) for aircraft formerly operated are based on registration/cancellation data and are for guidance purposes only.

tochigibell
Operated by Honda Airways from Tochigi Heliport in Haga, Bell 412EP JA09TG Ooruri
(Blue-and-White Flycatcher) was in service with the Tochigi Prefectural Disaster
Prevention Aviation Unit for 20 years, from 1997 to 2017. Tochigi became
one of the 14 prefectures that have so far switched to an AW139.

At the time still on Mitsui Bussan Aerospace’s books, AW139 JA06FD undergoes a ski-equipped
test flight at Yao Airport, Osaka, in March 2021. Its registered ownership was soon to be
changed to Kochi Air Rescue.
(Photo: きりふだ via Twitter @KFD_613)

(All photographs on this website are copyright J-HangarSpace
unless otherwise stated.) 

Municipal Fire Department Aviation Units

Chiba Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Chiba City Disaster Prevention Heliport, Chiba Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1992 (Fire Helicopter Corps)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

AS365N2 JA6687 6426 Ootori 1

Jan. 1992 to Feb. 2006

 

AS365N3

JA119C 6543 Ootori 2 Apr. 1, 1999
JA03CF 6722 Ootori Feb. 1, 2006
Last updated: July 24, 2013

chiba03CFNamed Ootori after a legendary bird, Eurocopter (Aérospatiale) AS365N3 JA03CF has been
operational with Chiba City’s Fire Helicopter Corps since February 2006.

The two Chiba unit aircraft during one of their performances at the Red Bull Air Race meet that
was held at Makuhari on the Chiba Prefecture coast in September 2019.

(Photo: なぎさ via Twitter @KatanoNagisa)

(JGSDF Kisarazu, Oct. 2012)

Initially, the Chiba unit’s tail marking comprised a series of what appeared to be six pale blue bubbles of increasing size that had arced up the tail of the first two aircraft (above). The city’s website refers to this design, which was devised in 1991, as its “communication mark”. The six discs are said to be representative of the city’s six wards and symbolize its people and resources, as well as the active flow and exchange of information that takes place within the city. This marking also symbolized Chiba City’s then new image as a growing centre for advanced information technology.

The first aircraft (the incredibly internet-shy JA6687 [link]) having already been retired by 2006, the two current aircraft received the Chiba City emblem (below) in the spring/summer of 2015. This 1921 design includes the moon and star coat of arms of the Chiba clan chief who founded what was to become the city after having adopted the name of the then district in feudal times. The emblem also contains a highly stylized (make that barely recognizable) version of the 千 (chi) of Chiba.

(JGSDF Kisarazu, Sept. 2017)

Fukuoka Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Fukuoka Airport, Fukuoka Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1975 (Fukuoka City Fire Prevention Bureau [FPB])
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

SA.316B Alouette III JA9136* 2214 Akatonbo

Feb. 1975 to April 1996

AS365N1 JA9966 (link) 6328 Yurikamome

Jan. 1990 to Feb. 2008

AS365N2 JA119F 6500 Hoojiro Apr. 1, 1997 to Jan. 2018
AS365N3 JA08FC 6790 Yurikamome Apr. 1, 2008
AS365N3+ JA18AR 7019 Hoojiro Feb. 1, 2018*
BK117D-3       Order announced June 30, 2021
* See links to photos in text at end of this section.
*
Contract for AS365N3+ announced Oct. 13, 2016 for spring 2018 delivery
Last updated: Oct. 9, 2021

JA119F
A former and current helicopter in the service of the Fukuoka City FPB. (Above) AS365N2 Hoojiro
(Siberian Meadow Bunting), seen at Fukuoka Airport in December 2008, and (below)
AS365N3
Yurikamome (Black-headed Gull), at the same location in November 2012.
(Photos: Amayagan via Wikimedia Commons
)

JA08FC

Fukuoka City’s JA18AR on a visit to Kobe Airport in August 2021
(Photo: 飛龍 via Twitter @hiryu_uh60)

Fukuoka’s long-serving initial equipment, the Alouette III Akatonbo (Dragonfly), was photographed in flight (link) and on the ground (link) at the Fukuoka Castle ruins in January 1991. After retirement, the aircraft was given pride of place at the Fukuoka Municipal Disaster Control Center, as seen in this photo from July 2012 (link).

Hamamatsu Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Hamamatsu Disaster Prevention Heliport, Shizuoka Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 2009 (Air Rescue Team)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

AS365N3 JA119X 6877 Hamakaze Dec. 16, 2009
Last updated: July 9, 2013

After a fuel stop, Hamamatsu’s AS365N3 Hamakaze (Beach Wind) departs Shizuoka Heliport.
(Photo [Sept. 2021]: カモノハツZ via Twitter @W1hUskaQUeaPe9Z)

Hamakaze looks somewhat different on a bright, sunny day.
(Photo [Training at Fujikawa gliding field, Shizuoka City, Aug. 2020]: via Twitter @spci61-260)

The tail marking is the emblem that symbolizes the City of Hamamatsu. Adopted in 2005, the nature-inspired design consists of green upper and blue lower parts. The former represents the abundant forest in the north of the city, the latter the beauty of Lake Hamana and the Enshu Sea. The shape of the white Enshu Sea wave is said to express Hamamatsu’s dynamism and development.

Hiroshima Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Hiroshima-Nishi Airfield, Hiroshima Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1990
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

AS365N1 JA9978 (link) 6336 Hiroshima

Feb. 1990 to July 2006

AS365N3 JA05HC 6728 Hiroshima April 1, 2006
Last updated: July 9, 2013

A photo taken during a training exercise designed to hone Hiroshima City aircrew skills in hoisting
visually impaired people and their guide dogs to safety. The three wavy blue lines on the aircraft’s
tail are from Hiroshima’s official symbol, adopted from that of the former Aki (or Geishu) 
province way back in 1896, as a three-river “City of Water”. In recent years, torrential
rainfall in the area has caused widespread flooding and landslides as well as loss 
of life, so the unit has to maintain a high level of readiness.

(Photo [August 2020]: Hiroshima Fire Service Bureau via Twitter @Hiroshima F_S_B)

Kawasaki Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit (Kanagawa Prefecture)
Base Tokyo Heliport
Date Formed July 1, 1985 (Kawasaki Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117B-2 JA9620 (link) 1011 Soyokaze 1

May 1985 to May 2005

BK117B-2 JA6730 (link) 1098 Soyokaze 2 Apr. 1, 1994
BK117C-2 JA01KF 4008 Soyokaze 1 Apr. 1, 2005
AS365N3+ JA02KF 6999  Soyokaze 2  (See Note)
Note: Signed contract with Airbus Helicopters Japan for AS365N3+ April 30, 2014. Test flown at Kobe mid-July 2015
Last updated: Nov. 19, 2015

kawasakibk117Then named Soyokaze (Zephyr) 2, the Kawasaki Air Rescue MBB/Kawasaki BK117B-2 was on
static display at JMSDF Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture, October 6, 2013. This aircraft was
renamed
Soyokaze 1 when supplanted by the brand-new AS365N3+ in 2015.

Kawasaki representative JA01KF sets the dust swirling when landing at a sports park in Isehara,
Kanagawa Prefecture, the focal point of a joint mountain rescue training exercise in
September 2019. This aircraft has been in service since April 2005.
(Photo: なぎさ via Twitter @KatanoNagisa)

From the time of its introduction in July 2015 to the summer of 2018, JA02KF carried a promotional
marking
(below) portraying facets of Kawasaki on both stabilizer end-plates. Also carried on some
of the city’s buses, the elements indicated the city’s greenery
(not apparent in the above, seemingly
colour-saturated image), clean water, passion for art, and warm-hearted people.
(Photo [2018]: WEASEL via Twitter @遺伝子組換え済)

As seen in the opening photo, this promotional marking was also carried by JA6730,
from 2007 to 2015.
(Image: はちあまやか via Twitter @mayakamakiri)

Sorokaze 2 taxying at Tokyo Heliport in February 2016. Based on the river kanji 川 (kawa)
of Kawasaki and black in its original form, the blue Kawasaki City symbol carried on
the nose and fuselage sides dates all the way back to 1925.

(Photo: ‘Mr.Minazuki’ via Wikimedia Commons)

A beautifully lit photo of Soyokaze 2 taken at Shiroyama Lake in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture,
during a forest firefighting training exercise held in September 2020.

(Photo: Red pepper via Twitter @ichikyk119)

Kita-Kyushu Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Kita-Kyushu Airport, Fukuoka Prefecture
Date Formed May 14, 1993 (Kita-Kyushu Fire Aviation Corps)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

AS365N2 JA6701 (link) 6473 Kitakyuu

1993–2010

AS365N3 JA10KC 6903 Kitakyuu Apr. 12, 2010
Last updated: July 9, 2013

(Above) The second AS365 to be named Kitakyuu and operated by the Kita-Kyushu unit rests in its
hangar at Kita-Kyushu Airport in March 2016.
(Below) The speaker array mounted on the rear
fuselage is primarily used to communicate with those in need of assistance.

(Photos: ぽっちー via Twitter @pochi_m)

A short, high-quality YouTube video of this aircraft in action, taking off and departing after a training exercise in June 2010, can be found here (link). On the markings front, note that the rakish blue fuselage stripe carries the words Kitakyushu City Fire and Disaster Management Department (link). The tail marking (link) is of the city’s “herb” design, the surrounding five petals of which represent the five then municipalities that were merged to form the city in 1963. The center design is primarily a stylized 北 (kita, meaning north),  while the star-shaped design denotes industry in the form of a gear and the radial urban development of the city.

Kobe Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Kobe Heliport, Hyogo Prefecture
Date Formed Jan. 1972 (Kobe City Air Corps)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

Hughes 369HS JA9069* 6619  

Oct. 1971 to Mar. 1988

Bö105S JA9556 (link) S-435  

Jan. 1981 to Nov. 2003

BK117

 

 

JA9608
Jan. 2006 (link)

 

 

1006

 

 

KOBE-II ?

July 1984 to July 1990

BK117A-4 KOBE-II ?

July 1990 to Sept. 1995

BK117B-2 KOBE-III

Sept. 1995 to Nov. 2007

BK117B-2 JA6739 (link) 1099 KOBE-I Dec. 1994 to (2015) 

 


BK117C-2

JA28HY* 4009   Mar. 2006
JA02KB 4010 KOBE-II Mar. 2007
JA01HK 4034 HYOGO/KOBE-I Flight tested at Gifu, Sept. 2014**
* See links to photos in text at end of section.
* JA28HY entrusted to Kobe from Hyogo Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
** Order announced by KHI Oct. 15, 2013, del. Jan. 21, 2015
Last updated: Oct. 9, 2021

Kobe Fire BK117C-2The Kobe City Air Corps’ BK117C-2 KOBE-II passes over the city’s Port Island in September 2008.
The Air Corps is attached to the
Keibōtai (literally Civilian Guard Unit) of the city’s Fire
Department and operates its helicopters jointly with the Hyogo Prefectural Disaster
Prevention Aviation Unit.
(Photo: “J o” via Wikimedia Commons)

(Above) The most recent addition to the Hyogo-Kobe fleet JA01HK over the Kobe cityscape in
January 2020. Along the base of its white bird fuselage marking
(below), the aircraft carries
the blue flag symbol for Hyogo Prefecture
(described in the Hyogo Prefecture entry) and
that in green of Kobe City alongside their names in Japanese.

(Photos: M via Twitter @Ssssa002)

The Kobe City flag emblem depicts two fans, which the Port of Kobe (formerly Hyogo Port) is said to resemble. For flag purposes appearing in white on a green background, as seen above the symbol appears on the sides of the aircraft in green on JA01HK and in white on JA02KB, the latter carrying the green version above the word KOBE under its nose (link, and in lead photo).

HYOGO・KOBE-I during its spirited performance at the traditional New Year firefighters’ festival
at Kobe Port, January 2020
(Photo: M via Twitter @Ssssa002)

Going a little further back in time, BK117B-2 JA6739 served as KOBE-I until 2015 and
was eventually passed on to a new owner in New Zealand.

(Photo: seasons via Twitter @Seasons4100)

The first helicopter to serve Kobe, the Hughes 369 JA9069, was noted at the city’s disaster relief centre heliport in July 1981 (link). The aircraft was still on display at the facility now called the Bando Kobe Youth Science Museum in October 2020 (link).

Kyoto Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Kyoto Disaster Prevention Heliport, Kyoto Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1972
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

SA.316B Alouette III JA9072* 1887 Kyoto

Mar. 1972 to June 1992

SA365N1 Dauphin 2 JA9673* 6290 Hiei

Jan. 1998 to Aug. 2005

AS365N2 JA6688 (link) 6428 Atago

Jan. 1992**

 

AS365N3

JA911A 6671 Hiei Apr. 2005
JA02FD 6924 Atago Aug. 2011
* See links to photos in text at end of this section.
** JA6688 eventually leased to Miyagi Prefectural DPAU Oct. 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013
Last updated: Oct. 4, 2013

Painted on the undersides of JA911A are the kyō from Kyoto and shō from shōbō (fire department).
(Photo [Dec. 2019]: インコ好き via Twitter @color_hiyoko)

Named after a mountain located within Kyoto’s city limits, AS365N3 Atago departs
Kobe Airport in August 2021.
(Photo: 飛龍 via Twitter @hiryu_uh60)

(Above [JA911A] and below [JA02FD]) The two gleaming Kyoto AS365N3 helicopters in their
hangar at the city’s heliport, December 2018

(Photos: 祥 via Twitter @rescue60K)

Kyoto’s first two helicopters, the Alouette III JA9072 (link) and the Dauphin 2 JA9673 then named Kyoto 2 (link), were photographed at Osaka-Itami Airport in June 1980 and March 1988, respectively. The former was placed on display at Kyoto City Disaster Prevention Center until replaced by JA9673 in August 2005.

Nagoya Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Nagoya Airport, Aichi Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1973 (Air Rescue Nagoya)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

SA.316B Alouette III JA9093* 1988 Nagoya

Feb. 1973 to Sept. 1991
(See photo below)

SA365C1 Dauphin 2 JA9557 (link) 5044 Nagoya 2

Feb. 1981 to July 1996**

AS365N1 JA9693 (link) 6304 Nagoya

Apr. 1988 to July 2007

AS365N2 JA6779 (link) 6496 Nagoya 2  Mar. 29, 1996 to 2015
AS365N3 JA758A 6758 Nagoya →
Nobunaga 
Mar. 16, 2007
Renamed Sept. 2014
AS365N3+ JA08AR  7001   Hideyoshi Apr. 1, 2015*
* See links to photos in text at end of this section.
** JA9557 on display at the Nagoya Municipal Minato Disaster Prevention Center
* JA08AR registered Oct. 27, 2014 and commissioned Mar. 20, 2015 
Last updated: Nov. 19, 2015

nagoyaalouette
(Above) Former Nagoya Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit Alouette III JA9093 was placed on
display at the then Kakamigahara Aerospace and Science Museum, Gifu Prefecture, in March
1996. Seen here in October 2000, the aircraft was eventually passed on to The Association
for the Preservation of Helicopter History in July 2016. Its successor was AS365N2 
Nagoya 2 (below), which was itself replaced by ‘N3 Hideyoshi in 2015.

AS365N2 Nagoya 2

The two latest generation aircraft currently operated in flight over the city (above) with
Nagoya Castle in the background and
(below) during a display at the traditional
New Year firefighters’ event event held at the Port of Nagoya, January 2020.

(Photos: [Top] City of Nagoya Fire Department via Twitter @NagoyaShobo);
[above] しだーぱむぱむ® ver.2.01 via Twitter @EPSHV)

In the linked images, that first aircraft to bear the name Nagoya, the Alouette III JA9093, is seen at JGSDF Akeno in October 1976 (link) and Osaka-Itami Airport in August 1983 (link).

Okayama Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Konan Airport, Okayama Prefecture
Date Formed

Apr. 1, 1997 (Fire Defence & Prevention Div., Aviation Control Office /

Okayama Fire Avaition Corprs)

 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

BK117C-1 JA6793 (link) 1108 Momotarou Nov. 28, 1996
BK117C-2 JA33BK 4035 Momotarou [See Note]
Replacement BK117C-2 order announced Jan. 22, 2014, delivery announced Mar. 27, 2015
Last updated: Jan. 30, 2022

Okayama BK117C-2 (KHI)Okayama Air Rescue’s BK117C-2 replaced an earlier model ‘C-1 in 2015. (Photo: KHI)

A somewhat clearer image of JA33BK, which is named Momotarō (Peach Boy) after the legend that 
is said to have taken place in Okayama; hence the peaches as a tail marking. The aircraft is based
at Okayama Momotaro Airport.
(Photo [taken in 2020]: ひょーご via Twitter @0128BKHY)

(Image: Okayama City Office)

The above poster spotlights the main operations of the Okayama Fire Aviation Corps (not to be confused with the prefectural-level Air Rescue Team q.v.). The Japanese at the top reads:

Doing their utmost to protect and preserve lives.
The disaster prevention helicopter Momotarō crew members protect the lives, physical well-being and property of Okayama’s citizens.

(Left-hand photo column, top to bottom): Clear for takeoff! / Attaching a fire bucket / Patient/casualty airlift / Maintenance / Images relayed from on-board TV camera; (Right-hand photo column): Winter mountain rescue / Firefighting activities / At the scene of a fire / Flood rescue / Cockpit

In 2020, the latest full year for which statistics are available, the helicopter was sent on a total of 75 missions: 28 fires, 32 emergency cases, 14 rescues, and one other of an unspecified nature.

In 2021, the unit reached the milestone of 7,000 accident-free flying hours. A short PR video (best with the sound off) can be viewed on YouTube here (link).

Osaka Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit  
Base Yao Airport, Osaka Prefecture  
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1970  
   
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

 
Hughes 369S JA9040* 1090207S Oosaka

Mar. 1977 to July 1988

 
SA.316B Alouette III JA9146* 2251 Oosaka 2

Jan. 1976 to June 1993

 
SA365N Dauphin 2 JA9649 (link) 6218 Oosaka

Dec. 1986 to Jul. 2005

 
AS365N2 JA6700 (link) 6438 Naniwa

Feb. 1993 to July 2010

 

 

AS365N3

JA050F 6695 Oosaka April 1, 2005  
JA100F 6897 Naniwa April 1, 2010  

H155

JA210F 7052 Oosaka Dec. 2020  
* See links to photos in text at end of this section.
Note: Airbus Helicopters announced order for H155 (to replace JA050F) Oct. 23, 2019.
Last updated: Sept. 17, 2021  

After a 16-year career, Osaka Fire Department’s JA050F was on the verge of
replacement by the H155 when this photo was taken in June 2021.
(Photo: ひょーご via Twitter @0128BKHY)

AS365N2 JA100F carries the hiragana for Naniwa, Osaka’s original name and now that of one of
its administrative wards.
(Photo [posted June 2021]: n_あゝあ via Twitter AaaNisimine)

Osaka’s new H155 at Yao a few days before its official commissioning ceremony, which was held on
September 1, 2021.
(Photo: ヒロ via Twitter @HiroRjoy)

Following Kobe’s lead but six years later, a Hughes 369 was acquired as the first Oosaka in 1977. The aircraft is seen here (link) at Yao in November 1980. Like the BK117s and AW139s of today, the Alouette III cornered a fair share of the Japanese market in the 1970s; JA9146 was photographed, also at Yao, in May 1978 (link).

Sapporo Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Ishikari Heliport, Hokkaido Prefecture
Date Formed Mar. 1, 1991 (Sapporo Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412 JA6636 36008 Sapporo 2 March 1, 1991
Bell 412EP JA119L* 36462 Sapporo 1 April 1, 2009
AW139** JA17AR 41519 Sapporo 2 ex-N592SH
* Bell 412EP delivered as N6317X
** AW139 first registered to Mitsui Bussan Aerospace Aug. 2016, fitted out at Toyo Aviation, Chofu Airport from Oct. and test flown Jan./Feb. 2017
Last updated: Mar. 1, 2017

JA6636Sapporo Air Rescue’s Bell 412 JA6636, the previous Sapporo 2, seen at Okadama airport, Hokkaido,
in October 2007.
(Photo: “100yen” via Wikimedia Commons)

Bell 412EP JA119L (Photo [Okadama Airport, Sept. 2009]: CJ via Twitter @armingarea1836)

The Sapporo fleet’s capabilities were greatly enhanced by the arrival of its AW139, which was built
at AgustaWestland’s Philadelphia facility in 2016.
(Photo: たかぽん via Twitter @takapochen)
When the weather conditions demand, the aircraft is fitted with skis (link).

Sendai Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Sendai Airport, Miyagi Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1993 (Sendai Fire Aviation)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117B-1

 

JA6698*

 

1103

 

Sendai

Oct. 1992 to Sept. 1993

BK117B-2

Sept. 1993 to Sept. 2011

 

Bell 412EP

JA119T 36372 Keyaki Nov. 2005
JA119J 36538 Sendai Mar. 2011
* JA6698 See links to photos in text at end of this section.
Last updated: July 24, 2013

Sendai JA119TOne of the two Bell 412EPs operated by the Sendai Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit, JA119T
is named
Keyaki (Zelkova) after the tree chosen to symbolize Miyagi Prefecture.
(Photo [April 2015]: Ebiebi2 via Wikimedia Commons)

In April 2019, the other 412EP Sendai was a visitor to JGSDF Kasuminome for the 62nd 
anniversary of the garrison’s establishment.
(Photo: 北狸 via Twitter @Kitadanuki)

Sendai’s BK117 visited Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture, in October 2007 (link) and was present with JA119T at the central park in Kakuda, Miyagi Prefecture, in April 2009 (link). Damaged at Sendai Airport in the tsunami of March 11, 2011, its registration was cancelled in September of that year.

Shizuoka Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Shizuoka Heliport, Shizuoka Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 2008* (Shizuoka City Fire Bureau Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA119P 36439 Kawasemi Mar. 28, 2008
* Started operations Oct. 1, 2008
Last updated: July 24, 2013

Along with Hiroshima and Okayama, Shizuoka is one of the three prefectures that operate units at
the prefectural level and from a city of the same name. This photo was taken during an event
at Shizuoka heliport where members of the public could experience being winched up to the
aircraft and flown around the airfield.
(Photo [Oct. 2018]: あっき via Twitter @donguri_ka)

The helicopter named Kawasemi (Kingfisher) during a training exercise at Shizuoka heliport.
The emblem carried on the nose of the aircraft
(below) depicts three “kawasemi-zu”
rushing to answer a 119 emergency call.

(Photo [Oct. 2018]: カリス(支援舟に心を奪われた者) via Twitter @TeamCaris)
(Image: Shizuoka City Fire Bureau Facebook)

Adopted in 2003, the redesigned Shizuoka City flag that forms the tail marking (link) combines the image of a white Mt. Fuji with the waves of Suruga Bay in the shape of an S.

Tokyo Fire & Disaster Management Agency Flying Unit (Part 1/2)
Base Tokyo Heliport and JGSDF Tachikawa, Tokyo
Date Formed Nov. 1, 1966
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Dates

 

SE.3160 Alouette III

JA9020* 1376 Chidori

Mar. 1967 to Feb. 1983

JA9027 1516  

Jan. 1969 to Dec. 1985

SA.316A

Alouette III

JA9071 (link) 1877 Kamome

Mar. 1972 to Aug. 1988*

JA9121 (link) 2000 Mizutama

May 1974 to Nov. 1990

 

SA365N Dauphin 2

JA9569 (link) 6029 Chidori

Mar. 1982 to June 1997*

JA9610 (link) 6138 Hibari 2

Jan. 1985 to June 2001

 

AS365N1

JA9692 (link) 6305 Kamome 3

May 1988 to Aug. 2009

JA9980 (link) 6334 Tsubame 5

Feb. 1990 to Sept. 2010

AS365N2 JA119A (link) 6508 Chidori 1

Mar. 28, 1997**

SA330F Puma JA9512 1141 Yurikamome

Nov. 1972 to Aug. 1988***

AS332L1


JA6720 (link) 2397 Hakuchou 6

Mar. 14, 1994+

JA9676 2201 Yurikamome 4

Jan. 1988 to Nov. 2008

JA119B 2540 Hibari 2

June 9, 2001 to 2020

* See links to photos in text below.
** ex N6288S, reg’n cancelled Aug. 2017
*** On outdoor display at Museum of Aeronautical Sciences, 111-3, Iwayama, Shibayama-machi,
Sanbu-gun, Chiba Prefecture 289-1608 (www.aeromuseum.or.jp)
+ ex F-WYMA 

Last updated: Oct. 10, 2021

JA9512Formerly operated from Tokyo heliport, this SA330F was put out to grass at the Museum of
Aeronautical Sciences in August 1989.
(Photo [Sept. 2013]: Alec Wilson via Wikimedia Commons
)
The same aircraft during its service career, at Sunpu Castle Park in
Shizuoka City, September 1984
(link).

Tokyo Fire PumaNamed Yurikamome (Black-Headed Gull), Eurocopter (Aérospatiale) AS332L-1 Super Puma
JA9676 sported twin nose-mounted hoses for tackling fires in high-rise buildings when
operated by the Tokyo Fire Department Aviation Unit. After 20 years’ service,
this aircraft was replaced by an EC225LP in 2008.

In the year after its entry into service, Alouette III JA9020 Chidori (Plover) was present at the major event Iruma air show in October 1968 (link). This aircraft was eventually placed on display at the Tokyo Fire Museum, which was visited by J-HangarSpace in September 2013 (link). The aircraft was still present in January 2019 (link), by which time the conditions for photography had been improved.

Tokyo Fire & Disaster Management Agency Flying Unit (Part 2/2)
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date


EC225LP
JA119Y 2678 Yurikamome 4 Mar. 27, 2008
JA71KT 2885 Kounotori 7 Delivered Sept. 2013
JA62HC 2901 Hakuchou 6  Arr. Kobe Mar. 3, 2014
AW139

JA05FD 41324   (See Note*)
JA14TD 41518 Chidori 1 (See Note**)

 

 

AS365N3

JA01FD 6691 Ootaka Dec. 22, 2005
JA119E 6839 Kamome 3 Mar. 27, 2009
JA119G 6893 Tsubame 5 Mar. 25, 2010
AW189*** JA24HB 89012 Hibari 2 (At Nagoya, June 2019)

* Initially reg’d to Mitsui Bussan May 2013, to Tokyo FDMA Aug. 2013
** Initially reg’d to Mitsui Bussan Oct. 2017, to Tokyo FDMA Mar. 2017

*** Order announced Oct. 16, 2017

Last updated: Oct. 10, 2021

ja119e (1)
(Above and below) Taken at Tachikawa in November 2013, these two views are of JA119E
Kamome (Seagull), one of the three Eurocopter (Aérospatiale) AS365N3s operated by the
Tokyo Fire Department.

ja119e (2)(Photos: J-HangarSpace)

AW139 JA14TD Chidori 1, one of the new guard now operating with the Tokyo service.
(Photo: さくらもち (Sakuramochi) via Twitter @Zpp4O7)

EC225LP JA71KT Konoutori (White Stork) at Tokyo Heliport in January 2019
 (Photo: QB-TCY via Twitter @zapper119)

(Above and below) The first of its type in Japan and then the newest addition to the Tokyo fleet,
AW189 JA24HB commenced operations after a four-month crew training period in July 2020.

(Photos [Tokyo Heliport]: [Top, Aug. 2020] Waka via Twitter @cygnus_001;
[above, June 2020] なぎさ via Twitter @KatanoNagisa)

Yokohama Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit
Base Yokohama Heliport, Kanagawa Prefecture
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1980
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

SA365C1 Dauphin 2 JA9544 (link) 5064  

Feb. 1980 to July 1995

AS365N JA9585 (link) 6069  

Feb. 1983 to July 1998

AS365N2 JA6740* (link) 6477 Hamachidori 1

Mar. 1995 to ?

AS365N2 JA98YH** (link) 6528 Hamachidori 2 Apr. 1, 1998

 

AW139

JA131Y 41315 Hamachidori 1 Apr. 1, 2013
JA152Y* 41385  Hamachidori 2  
* Formerly G-BYUR; ** N6400J; * Test flown at FHI Utsunomiya late Feb. 2015 to replace JA6740
Last updated: Apr. 5, 2018

Yokohama AS365N2 (JA6740)Yokohama heliport-based AS365N2 Hamachidori 1 (Plover 1) seen giving an air rescue
demonstration during the Yokohama Fire Department’s New Year Parade
in January 2013.
(Photo: Toshinori Baba via Wikimedia Commons)

Yokohama AS365N2 (JA98YH)Another fine action shot, this time of old guard sister aircraft AS365N2 Hamachidori 2
in August 2014 (Photo: Mj-bird via Wikimedia Commons)

The first of the Yokohama AW139s bows to the crowd (above) and leaves the stage at the 2014
edition of the city’s New Year
fire department festival. Maintaining the tradition, both
aircraft have have retained the name of their
predecessors, Hamachidori (Plover).
Yokohama AW139 (Photos: ‘shampoorobot’ via Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo: Chiba Fire Helicopter Corps via Twitter @chiba_shobo)

Prefectural Disaster Prevention Bureau Aviation Units

Aichi Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Nakanihon Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Nagoya Airfield
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1996
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA6792 36117 Wakashachi Oct. 1, 1996*
Bell 412EPI** JA23AR   37013 Wakashachi   c. July 2017

* Aircraft first registered June 1996 (ex N92115), reg’n cancelled and sold in Australia Apr. 2018
**  Ordered to replace 412EP, announced March 2016

Last updated: Nov. 9, 2018

Aichi Pref Bell 412EPAichi Prefecture’s Bell 421EP (above) was replaced by a 412EPI in the same colour scheme.
(Photo: CHIYODA I [Sept. 2015] via Wikimedia Commons)

An Aichi Air Rescue crew puts on a demonstration for visitors to the Aichi Museum of Flight in
October 2019. The aircraft is named
Wakashachi (Young Shachi),shachi being the half carp,
half tiger creature of Japanese folklore believed to guard against fire, as found decorating
the roof of Nagoya Castle in Aichi. In modern Japanese
shachi means orca.
(Photo: てっちゃん@aichi_mof_vol via Twitter @ae01152751)

(Above and below) Carrying the Japanese for Aichi Prefecture on the sides of its fuselage, veteran
stand-in Bell 412EP JA6772 departs Nagoya Airport in May 2020. From 1996 to 2016, this
aircraft was operated by Hokkaido Police before being acquired in 2017 by a company
called TMC International. Short-term leases covering helicopter overhaul absences
had previously seen the aircraft bearing titling for Gunma (2017), Wakayama (2018),
Kagoshima and Iwate (2019) prefectures. The aircraft had returned to Hokkaido by
June 2020, this time for service with the Sapporo municipal aviation unit, and
was still present there in July 2021.

(Photos: サ via Twitter @HgoNkm)

Rescue personnel salute at the end of a demonstration flight in February 2016. Likewise in
temporary service with Aichi Air Rescue at the time, Bell 412 JA6767 has also seen stand-in
service with Mie Prefecture
(q.v.). (Photo: 豊川救工41 via Twitter @rescue510708)

Not surprisingly, many helicopters in full-time operation with these units carry their
respective prefectural flags as identifying markings. The Aichi Prefecture design,
which dates back to 1950 and is normally white on a red background, depicts
a stylized
あいち (Aichi) in the form of whitecaps on the Pacific Ocean.
(Image: Nameneko via Wikimedia Commons)

Akita Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator (Independently operated*)
Base Akita Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1999 (Akita Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

BK117C-1 JA6848 1123 Namahage Mar. 30, 1999
BK117C-2** JA05AR 4042 Namahage Flight tested at Gifu late Nov. 2016
* Pilots loaned from Akita Prefectural Police
** KHI announced order for replacement BK117C-2 Dec. 28, 2015
Last updated: Dec. 26, 2016

JA05AR was commissioned and commenced operations following a ceremony held on
October 25, 2017. (Photo [Oct. 2018]: Troutist J via Twitter @Troutist_J)

The small red marking at the top of the tail depicts the rakish katakana A (ア) of Akita in the
1959 prefectural flag design intended to symbolize the strength of its resources and development.

(Image: Monaneko via Wikimedia Commons)

The first Namahage taxies in the hover at Akita Airport in this undated photo. Seen more clearly in
this photo from October 2017
(link), its blue disc nose marking contained a red-faced namahage,
the demon-like being of local  folklore then adopted by the unit and after which
its aircraft are named.
(Photo: ‘K. saito’ via Twitter @KsaitoHeliPhoto)

The unit’s namahage marking, on which the first aircraft’s nose marking was based.
(Image: Akita Air Rescue publicity material, dated 2015)

Aomori Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Nakanihon Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Aomori Airport
Date Formed Jan. 1, 1995 (Shirakami Disaster Relief Aviation Unit)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA6750 36090 Shirakami Mar. 22, 1995*
Bell 412EPI JA16AM 37003 Shirakami (See note**)
* Date of handover ceremony. Aircraft first registered Feb. 1995 (ex N2186H)
** First Bell 412EPI order from Japan placed with Bell Helicopter Textron May 12, 2015,
      ff of type in Japan Mar. 15, 2016, at Nagoya Airport 
Last updated: Apr. 29, 2016

JA6750 (Photo [Oct. 2020]: MH-38R via Twitter @38RMh)

In operation since August 2016, Aomori Prefecture’s Bell 421EPI undertakes more than 200 missions
a year. Like its predecessor, the aircraft is named
Shirakami after the mountain range (and
UNESCO World Heritage site) that straddles the Aomori-Akita prefectural border.

(Photo [Nagoya Airport, Feb. 2021]: しだーぱむぱむ® ver.2.01 via Twitter @EPSHV)

Seen here superimposed on a map of Aomori Prefecture for comparison, the flag logo is a
solid green simplified version, its colour taken from the area’s cypress trees.

(Image: Monaneko via Wikimedia Commons)

Ehime Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Air Ehime, Inc.
Base Matsuyama Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1993 (Ehime Air Rescue Team)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

BK117C-1 JA6679 1106 Ehime 21 Apr. 1, 1996 to Oct. 2016
BK117C-2 JA117E 4037 Ehime 21 (First flew Sept. 29, 2015)
Last updated: Sept. 19, 2021

Ehime21 visiting Nagoya Airport in February 2018. The full prefectural flag (see below)
adorns the tail, and note that the words Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. appear beneath
the rotor head.
(Photo: しだーぱむぱむ® ver.2.01 via Twitter @EPSHV)

The offset central element of the Ehime Prefecture flag are the blossom petals of the
mikan (tangerine), as the prefecture is one of those well-known for growing this
variety of fruit.
(Image: Nameneko via Wikimedia Commons)

Seen here in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, in November 2007 (link), the first Ehime21 (JA6679) then had EHIME above the internationally recognized snake-and-staff emblem of the medical profession, both in red, on its tail unit end-plates.

Fukui Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Central Helicopter Service Ltd.
Base Fukui Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1996 (Fukui Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

BK117C-1 JA291F (link) 1112 Blue Arrow Mar. 31, 1997
BK117C-2 JA291A 4036 Blue Arrow (See Note)
Replacement BK117C-2 order announced by KHI Oct. 16, 2014, test flown early May 2015,
handed over at Yao Sept. 11, delivery announced Oct. 19, 2015
Last updated: Jan. 26, 2016

(Photo [Fukui Airport, Apr. 2021]: シューティングスター via Twitter @nGHvnuz8BHwd4a5)

. . . and from the other side (Photo [Nagoya Airport, Feb. 2021]:
しだーぱむぱむ® ver.2.01 via Twitter @EPSHV)

Having achieved its 1,000th flying hour on August 19, 2019, the Fukui Air Rescue helicopter was a
visitor at the Fukui Airport Sky Festival held the following month. The Central Helicopter Service
website news page had recorded its inauguration ceremony
(link) at the same location on
April 1, 2016, and the rescue team’s 5,000th flying hour since April 1997, which had
been completed on this aircraft on March 9, 2015
(link).

(Photo: i北陸 [i-Hokuriku] / Hokuriku region official event and tourist destination blog [link])

Symbolizing the desire for economic growth at the time of its design in 1952, the disc-shaped
logo of Fukui’s flag comprises the
katakana for Fukui (フクイ) in the form of
embryonic leaves.
(Image: Guilherem Paula via Wikimedia Commons)

Fukushima Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Nakanihon Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Fukushima Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1998 (Fukushima Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA821F 36174 Fukushima Apr. 1, 1998*
AW139 JA07AR 41546 Fukushima May 2019
* Aircraft first registered Dec. 1997 (ex N5609J)
Last updated: Sept. 16, 2021

(Above and below) Having sustained damaged during a woodland firefighting operation in
May 2020, Fukushima Air Rescue’s AW139 was returned to partial service in March 2021.

(Photos: Fukushima Air Rescue via Twitter @Fukushima_Bosai)

Although lacking any prefectural flag-based markings, the emblem carried on both sides of Fukushima’s AW139 (above), applied early in 2020, is a variation of that previously seen on the cockpit doors of its Bell 412EP predecessor (below).
([Image, top]: Fukushima City website [link];
[Photo, above]: ただひろ via Twitter @join20136earth)

(Above) Fukushima’s Bell 412EP during one of its last social engagements, an Aviation Day event
held at Fukushima Airport in September 2019, and
(below) being unceremoniously and
ignominiously paraded on the back of a trailer at the end of its 22 years of service in
March 2020. The Japanese for Fukushima on the cabin doors and the badges on the
cockpit doors have been masked over, but there was no attempt to disguise
the distinctive fuselage side design.

(Photos: TFAL via Twitter @)tkwskwaptfks)

Gifu Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Independently operated (Bell 412EP);
Central Helicopter Service Ltd. (BK117)
Base JASDF Gifu
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1994 (Gifu Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117C-1 JA6724 (link) 1094 Wakaayu I

Jan. 31, 1994* to ?

Bell 412EP JA96GF (link) 36124 Wakaayu II

Sept. 1996 (ex N6266T)**

Bell 412EP JA119V 36537 Wakaayu III

Mar. 23, 2011***

BK117C-2 JA21AR 4032 Wakaayu I

See Note (+) below

* Emergency operations from April 1, 1994 ** Written off in tragic accident when on rescue mission in mountains near Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, Sept. 11, 2009

*** Emergency operations from No. 17, 2011 (joint use with Gifu Prefectural Police)
+ Order announced by KHI June 28, 2013. Aircraft was being flight tested August 2014 for delivery in September and full operations from December.

Last updated: Oct. 25, 2014

(Photo [March 2021]: Hotty758 via Twitter @Hotty7581)

A photo of a Gifu rescue crew and JA21AR being put through their paces during a training
observation visit by their counterparts from Aichi Prefecture.

(Photo [July 2019]: Aichi Air Rescue via Twitter @AichiAirRescue)

JA119V features the prefectural logo (below) above the word GIFU as a tail marking (link).

(Image: Alex K via Wikimedia Commons)

JA21AR’s tail carries a cartoon-type pilot mascot ([link] and below).

(Detail from July 2019 photo: Aichi Air Rescue via Twitter @AichiAir Rescue)

Gunma Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Aero Asahi Corporation (formerly Toho Air Service)
Base Gunma Heliport, Maebashi*
Date Formed Jan. 1, 1997
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA200G 36132 Haruna May 20, 1997*
AW139** JA10GR 41571 Haruna  

* See Location Report 2
* Aircraft first registered Dec. 1996 (ex N1164R) and officially handed over May 20, 1997.
   Written off in accident August 10, 2018 (see Bulletin Board)
**  In April 2019, Mitsui Bussan was the winning bid of two tenders for a replacement. Costing a
       total of 1,996 million yen (equivalent to around US$18.1 million dollars, the AW139 was
       delivered in Dec. 2020 and officially commissioned on Sept. 8, 2021.
  

Last updated: Dec. 1, 2021

gunmaheloBell 412EP JA200G Haruna overflies its home base of Gunma Heliport in Maebashi in 2013.
After 21 years’ service, this aircraft was lost in a tragic accident in August 2018.

An inauguration ceremony for Gunma Prefecture’s AW139 was held on September 8, 2021.
Learning from the tragic loss of the previous
Haruna, this aircraft is fitted with a flight
recorder and safety features that include auto-hovering and collision avoidance systems.

(Photo: きりしま via Twitter @katori93cp)

Haruna’s tail marking comprises an element from the Gunma prefectural flag—a highly stylized representation of the kanji 群 (gun) in Gunma—superimposed within a fir tree design. (A report on J-HangarSpace’s September 2013 visit to Gunma Heliport can be found here [link].)

Hiroshima Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Nakanihon Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Hiroshima Airport
Date Formed July 11, 1996 (Hiroshima Maple)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA6774 (link) 36113 Meipuru

Feb. 1996 to ? (ex N32929)

AW139 JA12HP 41279 Meipuru Jan. 1, 2013
Last updated: Aug. 8, 2013

(Above) Maple during a search and rescue demonstration flight at the firefighters’ event held in the
city of Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, in April 2021 and
(below) at its home base in
October 2018. The red tail marking is a stylizedヒ
(hi) for Hiroshima, which
appears in white on a red background on the prefectural flag.

(Photos: [Top] NAST40ZZ via Twitter @NART40VX; [above] うー via Twitter @hu_119)

Hokkaido Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Joint operation with Hokkaido Prefectural Police
(from Apr. 1, 2022, formerly Aero Asahi Corporation)
Base Sapporo-Okadama Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1996 (Hokkaido Government Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

Bell 412 JA9986 (link) 33198 Suzuran

Dec. 2005*

Bell 412EP JA6775 36109 Hamanasu 2 Apr. 1, 1996**
AS365N3+***  JA01HR  7027  Hamanasu  

* JA9986 originally registered Feb. 1990, returned to Aero Asahi circa Oct. 2012

** JA6775 orginally registered Feb. 1996 (ex N3292N)
*** Ordered for March 2019 delivery, was being test flown from Yao airport, Osaka, March 2019

Last updated: Apr. 4, 2022

JA6775A crewman keeps watch from a side window as the pilot manoeuvres Hamanasu (Sweet Briar) 2 at
Okadama Airport in October 2007.
(Photo: “100 yen” via Wikimedia Commons)

CJ191011Flanked by thick and thin green vertical stripes, the seven-pointed star from the Hokkaido
prefectural flag serves as an aircraft marking, in the case of Hiroshima’s AS365N3+
positioned nowadays above the nose and on the tail.
(Photo [Okadama, October 2019]: CJ@armingarea1836)

The same prefectural marking is carried on a white background on the cockpit doors as
well as on the nose and the tail of the Bell 412EP JA6775. Note that
HOKKAIDO
GOVERNMENT appears in black lettering at the end of the tail boom.
(Photo: たかぽん via Twitter @takapochen)

Hyogo Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator (Independently operated)*
Base Kobe Heliport
Date Formed July 8, 1980* (Air Rescue Hyogo-Kobe)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117A-4

 

 

JA9909
(Sept. 1995 [link])

 

 

 

 

1019

 

 

Hyogo

 

 

Aug. 1988 to July 1989**

BK117B-1

July 1989 to July 1996**

BK117B-2

July 1996 to May 2007**

BK117C-2 JA28HY 4009 Hyogo Mar. 31, 2006

* Commenced with Hyogo Prefetural Police Bell 222, operations now undertaken in conjunction with Kobe Municipal Disaster Prevention Bureau Aviation Unit

** First deployment dates for JA9909: Oct. 13, 1988 (as BK117A-4); July 14, 1989 (‘B-1); July 30, 1996 (‘B-2)

Last updated: Aug. 9, 2013

A fine image of the Hyogo Prefecture aircraft taking part in the training exercise
conducted on National Disaster Preparedness Day
(September 1) 2021.
(Photo: ひょーご via Twitter @0128BKHY)

As usual, the marking at the base of the tail is taken from the Hyogo Prefecture flag (above). This
comprises a geographic representation of a stylized
兵 (hyō, meaning soldier) from Hyogo
sandwiched in between two wavy lines, the upper denoting the Sea of Japan,
the lower the Pacific Ocean.
(Image: Kzaral via Wikimedia Commons)

Ibaraki Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Tsukuba Aviation Co., Ltd. (TKB)
Base Tsukuba Heliport, Tsukuba
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1995 (Tsukuba Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117B-1 JA6743 (link) 1101 Tsukuba

Mar. 1995 to Mar. 2011

BK117C-2 JA298R 4016 Tsukuba Nov. 15, 2010*
BK117D-3       KHI announced order Oct. 26, 2021
* JA298R first registered Aug. 2010
Last updated: Oct. 27, 2021

A Tsukuba Air Rescue crew joins in the search for a missing person along a stretch of water in
the city of Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture, October 2017.
(Photo: JA283AR via Twitter @ja283)

The symbol from the Ibaraki Prefecture flag (below) carried on the aircraft’s tail is the bud of a white rose, the prefecture’s flower.

(Image: Monaneko via Wikimedia Commons)

Ishikawa Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Nakanihon Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Komatsu Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1997 (Ishikawa Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA893F 36134 Hakusan Apr. 1, 1997*
Bell 412EPI       (Ordered 2019)
* Aircraft first registered Dec. 1996 (ex N34957)
Last updated: Sept. 21, 2021

Planned for replacement by a Bell 412EPI ordered in 2019, Hakusan visits Kounan Airport in
Okayama Prefecture in August 2021.
(Photo: イージス艦 via Twitter @SPY_1D)

Seen more clearly here (link), the blue tail marking is a stylized version of 石川 (the kanji for Ishikawa). The left-hand element is in the geographical shape of the prefecture, the right presumably representing the sea rather than a river (kawa).

Iwate Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Toho Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Hanamaki Airport
Date Formed Aug. 1, 1996 (Iwate Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA6776 (link) 36114 Himekami Mar. 1996*
AW139  JA10TE  41506  Himekami  Flt tested Jan. 2016 
* Aircraft first registered Feb. 1996 (ex N3293A), replaced by AW139 and with Nagano DPAU in Sept. 2018
Last updated: Dec. 12, 2018

(Photo [Chofu Airport, Tokyo, Jan. 2020]: Wilco via Twitter @Wilco11886715)

(Above) The prefectural flag symbol of a stylized 岩 (iwa, meaning rock), seen in the
Japanese for Iwate Prefecture beneath, and
(below) the markings sported on the hoist.
The name
Himekami is taken from a mountain near Morioka, Iwate Prefecture.
(Photos: ただひろ via Twitter @join20136earth)

Kagawa Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Shikoku Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Takamatsu Airport
Date Formed Jan. 20, 1994 (Kagawa Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117B-2 JA6729 (link) 1095 Olive

Mar. 1994 to Dec. 2008

BK117C-2 JA119K 4013 Olive II Feb. 1, 2009*
* Aircraft first registered Oct. 2008
Last updated: Aug. 8, 2013

The current Kagawa aircraft carries on its upper fuselage the stylized version, rotated 90 degrees
to the left, of the katakana
カ (ka) for Kagawa, which appears on the prefectural flag. The flag
is olive green, olive being the prefectural tree and hence the aircraft’s name.

(Photo [Oct. 2020]: はちきん via Twitter @JA6928)

Kagoshima Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Kagoshima International Aviation Co., Ltd.
Base Makurazaki Airfield
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1998 (Air Rescue Crew)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA97KG 36175 Satsuma June 1, 1998*
AW139** JA18KG 41538 Satsuma  
* Aircraft first registered Dec. 1997 (ex N6317X)
** Delivery of AW139 announced by Mitsui Bussan Mar. 4, 2019
Last updated: Sept. 18, 2021

(Photo [2020]: ひょーご via Twitter @0128BKHY)

Kyushu Electric Power Company (Kyuden) personnel prepare to board the Kagoshima Air Rescue
Crew’s AW139 at Makurazaki Airport in early September 2020. The helicopter was drafted in to
speed up the restoration of power on Nakanoshima, one of the prefecture’s outlying islands,
following widespread supply disruption caused by a typhoon.
(Photo: 九電グループ [Kyuden Group] via Twitter @Kyuden_Official)

Seen clearly in this image (link), the current aircraft carries a design from an alternative Kagoshima Prefecture flag. This consists of two pairs of curves, one sweeping up, the other down, to represent the wind and waves in the form of a K for Kagoshima.

Kochi Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator (Independently operated)
Base Kochi-Ryoma Airport
Date Formed Feb. 1, 1996
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

S-76B JA6759 (link) 760428 Ryoma Apr. 22. 1996* (Kochi Air Rescue)
AW139 JA05FD 41324 Otome April 1, 2014**
  JA06FD 31925   Apr. 2021
* Start of operations. Aircraft first registered Nov. 1995
** JA05FD operated by Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA)
Last updated: Sept. 28, 2021

(Photo [Yao Airport, Osaka, Feb. 2021]: マサさん via Twitter @RJOY_spotter)

Kumamoto Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Amakusa Airlines Co., Ltd.
Base Kumamoto Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 2001 (Air Rescue Kumamoto)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

AS365N3 JA15KM (link) 6585 Hibari Feb. 13, 2001*
AS365N3+ JA90MT 7009 Hibari April 2018

* Aircraft first registered Feb. 2001
Note: Airbus Helicopters Japan announced order for replacement AS365N3+ Dec. 22, 2016, for delivery in spring 2018

Last updated: May 2, 2018

The second-generation Hibari (Skylark) during a rooftop rescue training exercise. The hook-like
tail marking is actually the stylized
ク (ku, for Kumamoto) in the shape of Kyushu that forms
the prefectural flag’s motif.
(Photo [Feb. 2019]: MF10L33 via Twitter @ashigara178)

Both horizontal tail end-plates feature an image of Kumamoto Prefecture’s popular Kumamon
bear mascot carrying a Kumamoto rescue pilot’s helmet.
(Photo [taken prior to full service
entry, Amakusa Airport, Jan. 2018]: いちカメ via Twitter @amakusablue)

Mie Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Nakanihon Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Tsushi Isewan Heliport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1993 (Mie Disaster Prevention Unit)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA6703 (link) 36045 Mie Mar. 17, 1993*
AW139 JA119M 41515 Mie Flt tests early 2017
* Aircraft first registered Jan. 1993 (ex N31409)
Last updated: July 31, 2017

Mie Bell412 (JA6767)Part of the fleet belonging to Nakanihon Air Service, the Mie Disaster Prevention Unit’s aircraft
operator, Bell 412 JA6767
Mie plays a key role during a rescue mission on Mount Gozaisho in
November 2010. On occasion, prefectures operating just one helicopter are provided with a
temporary replacement to cover their usual aircraft’s extended maintenance absences.
This same aircraft has also seen service with the Aichi Prefecture unit
(q.v.).
(Photo: Alpsdake via Wikimedia Commons)

The current aircraft’s registration simply comprises 119, the emergency phone number in Japan,
and
M for Mie. The tail marking is the stylized hiragana み (mi) of the prefectural flag, which
appears in white on the flag due to Mie’s association with the pearl industry; presumably
this accounts for the aircraft being predominantly white.

(Photo [July 2016]: しだーぱむぱむ® ver.2.01 via Twitter @EPSHV)

NikonskyF16(5)crsMie Disaster Prevention Unit’s AW139 at JGSDF Akeno, November 2019 
(Photo: ぷに一 [@NikonskyF16])

Miyagi Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Tohoku Air Service, Inc.
Base Sendai Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1991 (Miyagi Disaster Prevention Aviation Corps)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117B-1

 

JA6654

 

1102

 

 

 

 

Miyagi

 

 

 

1991 to Feb. 1996

BK117B-2

Feb. 1996 to circa 2010

BK117C-2 JA612M (link) 4011

 

 

(See Notes)

 

 

BK117C-1 JA6708 1104
AS365N2 JA6688 6428
AS365N3+ JA04FD 6960 Miyagi Aug. 6, 2013 (See Notes)

Notes:

JA612M first registered Jan. 2008, commenced operations Mar. 1 same year. Damaged beyond repair by tsunami at Sendai Airport, Mar. 11, 2011

JA6708 formerly Nagasaki Prefectural Disaster Prevention aircraft, in service bearing full markings Aug. 2012 (unmarked in Sept. 2012), eventually passed to private air ambulance service

JA6688 formerly Kyoto Municipal Disaster Prevention aircraft, unmarked in Mar. 2012 prior to receiving Miyagi/Eurocopter markings, leased from Oct. 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013

(Also, besides three longer BK117 leases 2011–2012, leased BK117B-1 JA6662 for a month Feb. 2012)

JA04FD loaned from Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA, part of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) since Jan. 2012. Announced as new Miyagi Aug. 2013.

Last updated: Aug. 9, 2013

Miyagi BK117C-1Formerly operated by the Nagasaki Air Rescue, BK117C-1 JA6708 was drafted in to replace a
Miyagi aircraft damaged beyond economic repair by the tsunami of March 11, 2011, and was
one of the three BK117s to bear the prefecture’s name. Photographed when flying over 
its Sendai Airport base in August 2012, the aircraft was later sold to a private
air ambulance service.
(Photo: Tettoumania2358 via Wikimedia Commons)

Officially named Miyagi in 2013, JA04FD retains its FDMA titling and tail markings. The aircraft 
visited JGSDF Kasuminome in April 2018 for the 61st anniversary of the garrison’s establishment.
(Photo: 抹茶猫 via Twitter @matchaneco)

More clearly seen in this photo, taken in September 2021, Miyagi does carry the design from the
prefectural flag on its stabilizer end-plates. The design comprises a green three-leaf clover
edged in white in the form of the
み (mi) of Miyagi; on the flag, this appears in white on
a green background.
(Photo: ファントムIIオジロ via Twitter@SuKuym8XeXh57DO)

Miyazaki Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Kagoshima International Aviation Co., Ltd.
Base Miyazaki Airport
Date Formed Oct. 1, 2004 (Miyazaki Air Rescue Team)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA99MZ 36328 Aozora Oct. 1, 2004*
* Aircraft first registered July 2004
Last updated: Aug. 9, 2013

Miyazaki Bell 412The Miyazaki Prefecture Bell 412EP was present at the Nyutabaru air show in December 2012.
Somewhat at odds with its colour scheme, the name on the side of the cabin,
Aozora, means
blue sky.
When read in Japanese, the registration numbers nine-nine (kyū-kyū) also mean
emergency; the letters are simply derived from MiyaZaki.

The prefectural flag that serves as a tail marking includes a stylized katakana ミ (mi)
in the form of steps to symbolize progress. The steps are yellow to symbolize Miyzaki’s
reputation as a sunny location.
(Image: Ninane via Wikimedia Commons)

Nagano Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator (Independently operated)
Base Matsumoto Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1997 (Nagano Air Rescue Team)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA97NA 36135 Arupusu (Alps) Apr. 1, 1997*
Bell 412HP** JA412V 30618   Aug. 2014 to Dec. 2015
Bell 412EP*** JA6776 36114   Sept. 1, 2018
Bell 412EPI+ JA02NA 37042 Arupusu (Alps)  
* Aircraft first registered Jan. 1997 (ex N34961)
     Written off in crash during training exercise Mar. 5, 2017
** Kagoshima International Aviation Co., Ltd. aircraft used as temporary cover.
*** Operated by Iwate Prefecture until 2016, stop-gap measure pending ‘EPI delivery
+ Ordered Nov. 7, 2018, delivery ceremony Nov. 16, 2020. See postscript to Mar. 5, 2017 Bulletin Board story 
Last updated: Dec. 27, 2020

JA97NA NaganoThe Nagano Air Rescue Team’s distinctively coloured Bell 412EP at rest amid the disappearing
snow at Matsumoto Airport in April 2010. This aircraft was lost in a tragic
accident in March 2017.
(Photo: contri via Wikimedia Commons)

Nagano Bell 412 (2)Alps (Nagano Air Rescue Team website photo gallery)

Bell 412 Fast FinAlps was the first helicopter in Japan to be modified with a Fast Fin or Dual Tailboom Strakes (DTS)
system, a modification designed to improve handling at low speed and in the hover. The fin bore the
logo that appears on the Nagano Prefecture flag, a stylized
(na) for Nagano that has the
appearance of a bird in flight. 
(Nagano Air Rescue Team website photo gallery)

The Bell 421EPI destined for Nagano Prefecture during flight testing. The unit officially accepted 
delivery of its new
Alps on November 16, 2020. Built by Bell, the aircraft was procured and
equipped by SUBARU.
(Photo [Utsunomiya, Sept. 2020]: Senda Jet via Twitter @santa463)

The Nagano Air Rescue Team pay a visit to their counterparts in the Yamanashi Prefecture aviation
unit during a long-range disaster response training exercise held on March 11, 2021, the
the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The team also dropped
in on the Gunma- and Tokyo-based units.

(Photo [Mar. 8, 2021]: Nagano Air Rescue Team via Twitter @AirNagano)

Nagasaki Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Oriental Air Bridge Co., Ltd (ORC)
Base JMSDF Ohmura
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1996 (Nagasaki Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117B-1

 

 

JA6708
Aug. 2010 (link)

 

 

 

 

1104

 

 

Nagasaki

(Mar. 1993) to Feb. 1995

BK117B-2

Feb. 1995 to Feb. 2001

BK117C-1

Feb. 2001 to ?

AS365N3 JA119Z 6939 Nagasaki Apr. 1, 2012*
* First registered March 2012, test flights conducted at Osaka-Itami Airport same month
Last updated: Aug. 10, 2013

The current Nagasaki photographed on a hazy day in September 2021 and showing its true colours
on a brighter day when visiting the city of Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture, back in 
November 2012
(link). (Photo: くう太郎 via Twitter @shimashima_go)

Loosely in the shape of an N and also of a dove of peace, the prefectural flag marking displayed prominently on the sides of the fuselage is blue to symbolize the sea and sky.

Two sides of BK117B JA6708 at JMSDF Omura in May 1993 (above) and May 1995 (below) . . .
. . . and in colour now as a BK117C-1, again at JMSDF Omura, May 2003
(Photos: Takao Kadokami)

Nara Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Toho Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Nara Prefectural Heliport, Nara
Date Formed Oct. 1, 1998 (Nara Air Rescue)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA99NA 36214   Oct. 1, 1998?*
Bell 412EP JA20NA 36243 Yamato 2000 Aug. 22, 2000**

* (Ex C-GBUB, N4446M). Written off in non-fatal accident at Totsukawa, Nara Prefecture, July 13, 1999

** Aircraft first registered May 2000 (ex N6400J)

Last updated: Aug. 10, 2013

(Photo [April 2020]: 回収犬 via Twitter @retriever666)

(Photo [Sept. 2021]: TA_KU via Twitter @ta_ku_nkn073)

Not immediately obvious from its shape, the prefectural flag marking on the Yamato 2000‘s tail is said to be a stylized katakana ナ (na) of Nara. The choice of colour was simple, as this dark red has apparently been associated with Nara since ancient times, but the meanings of the 1968 design’s elements are, as tends to be the case, somewhat more esoteric. Basically, the disc represents Nature, the smaller white disc harmony, and the integrated horizontal rectangle constant progress.

Niigata Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Aero Asahi Corporation
Base Niigata Airport
Date Formed Jan. 20, 1995 (Niigata Air Rescue Crew)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

S-76B JA6747 760414 Hakuchou Feb. 28, 1995*
AW139 JA15AR 41386 Hakuchou**  

* Aircraft first registered Dec. 1994 (ex N3292N), started operations April 1, 1995

** Registered to Mitsui Bussan Aerospace, Mar. 5, 2015

Last updated: Sept. 1, 2021

JA6747The Niigata Air Rescue S-76B passes low over its home base in August 2011. This aircraft was
replaced by the AW139 early in 2016. 
(Photo: “Cp9asngf” via Wikimedia Commons)

Hakuchou (Swan) leaving its usual nesting place on a training mission, May 2021.
(Photo: 偽プリーストvia Twitter @NisePri)

The Niigata Air Rescue Crew receive a visit from the Nagano Air Rescue Team, which was on
a long-range disaster response training exercise held three days before the
10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

(Photo [Mar. 8, 2021]: Nagano Air Rescue Team via Twitter @AirNagano)

Adopted in April 1992, the Niigata Prefecture symbol marking that has been applied to the fuselages of both Hakuchou is of a simple white fan shape within a sea blue disc. The design is said to represent the prefecture disseminating its internationality and positivity across the Sea of Japan and out into the wider world.

Oita Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Kyushu Airways Co., Ltd.
Base Ou Airfield, Bungo-Ono
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1997 (Air Rescue Oita)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

BK117C-1 JA01TA 1111 Toyokaze June 1, 1997*
BK117C-2 JA104W 4041 Toyokaze Flt tested Aug. 2016**
* Aircraft first registered Mar. 1997, reg’n cancelled and sold to NZ May 2018
** KHI announced replacement BK117C-2 order Nov. 4, 2015, due for delivery by end Feb. 2017 
Last updated: Nov. 13, 2018

Oita BK117Air Rescue Oita’s BK-117C-1 Toyokaze (“Excellent Wind”) in 2016, the
year its replacement arrived.
(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

Oita’s second-generation Toyokaze seen during test flights with a belly-mounted firefighting system
in January 2018. Instead of the device from Oita Prefecture’s flag, the circular tail marking is the
prefectural emblem, which dates from 1911.
(Photo: わかちい via Twitter @wakachii_NKM)

Okayama Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Shikoku Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Okayama Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 2009 (Okayama Pref. Air Rescue Team)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA119H 36503 Kibi June 8, 2009*
* Aircraft first registered in Mar. 2009
Last updated: Jan. 30, 2022

Kibi during a demonstration flight at Okayama Airport in November 2019.
(Photo: なぎさ via Twitter @KatanoNagisa)

Seen in a photo taken in December 2018 (link), Kibi’s tail marking seems to contain a downward-pointing arrow and the silhouette of an apple, but the design is in fact a stylized representation of the 岡 (oka, meaning hill) in Okayama. Although in white on the aircraft, on the prefectural flag this design is in gold against a purple background.

The aircraft’s name, literally meaning millet (a crop grown locally), was selected from around 1,270 applications received from people inside and outside the prefecture. Sounding the same as Kibi province, the ancient area now known as Okayama Prefecture, the name also conjures up the image of the unit being kibikibi (quick to respond). (The word kibi can also mean the tail of an aircraft.)

Saga Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator SGC Saga Aviation Co., Ltd.
Base Saga International Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 2020
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

BK117D-2* JA153L 36094   (Mar/Apr. 2021)
* Aircraft flight tested from Gifu, August 2020 (See Bulletin Board)
Last updated: Oct. 10, 2020

Saga Prefecture acquired the first BK-117D-2 for emergency service use in Japan, and Kachidoki is
seen here on a crew training flight in April 2021, soon after its introduction into service. A standard
dictionary meaning of
kachidoki is “triumphant shout”, but in this case the name has been obscurely
derived from the Japanese saying that a magpie works wonders for its home region
.
(Photo: MOR1 via Twitter @anm10w3079)

Another view of the Saga Prefecture aircraft in April 2021, during hoist training. Like the Oita
aircraft,
Kachidoki carries the prefectural emblem not the flag device as its tail marking. In
blue on the aircraft, this is usually white on a green flag. Adopted in 1992, the design is
basically described as representing Saga’s fertile soil and the sea.

(Photo: ふぁんとむ改 via Twitter @rjff_spotter)

The aircraft also promotes local strawberry farms through its specially selected registration. A play on words in that 153 (ichi-go-san) can also mean Mr. Strawberry [Grower], the word イチゴさん appears beneath the aircraft’s registration (and also in the alphabet as ichigosan) as elements in the logo that has promoted the new Ichigosan variety of locally produced strawberry since 2018.

Saitama Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Honda Airways Co., Ltd.
Base Honda Airport, Kawajima
Date Formed Jan. 1, 1991 (Saitama Disaster Prevention Air Squadron [DPAS])
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

AS365N2 JA6644 6386 Arakawa 1 Jan. 1991 to July 2007
AS365N3 JA31TM (link) 6729   Jan. 2006*
AS365N3 JA31KN 6587 Arakawa 2 Apr. 1, 2001

 

AW139**

JA31AR 41275 Arakawa 3  
JA03FD 41274 Arakawa 4  

* JA31TM written off in tragic accident during mountain rescue mission near Otaki, Saitama Prefecture, July 25, 2010

** Both AW139s first registered in Dec. 2011; JA03FD operated by Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA)

Last updated: Sept. 29, 2021

Arakawa 2Arakawa 2 being put through its paces on a hazy day at Honda Airport in Saitama, May 2005.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) AW139 that operates in conjunction
with the Saitama DPAS during mountain rescue training conducted at the OPark Bio
Resort Hotel and Spa complex in the town of Ogose, Saitama Prefecture.

(Photo [Nov. 2019]: なぎさ via Twitter @KatanoNagisa)

(Photo [posted September 2021]: Saitama DPAS via Facebook [link])

(Image: Monaneko via Wikimedia Commons)

The design for the prefectural flag (above) was adopted in September 1964, the month before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, some events of which were held in neighbouring Saitama. The circle comprises 16 magatama (comma-shaped beads), artefacts representative of items found in the prefecture’s clusters of ancient burial mounds. Each one symbolizes a natural phenomenon, character trait or aspect of life, such as the infrastructure development that was under way at that time.

(Photo: Saitama DPAS via Facebook page [link])

Although partly obscured on occasions when the belly-mounted firefighting equipment is fitted (above), AS365N3 JA31KN (also below) carries the prefectural marking on its undersides, as did the ill-fated Arakawa 1 (JA31TM).

(Photo: Saitama DPAS via Facebook page [link])

Of the two AW139s, only the bona fide Saitama DPAS aircraft Arakawa 3 sports the
prefectural emblem on its undersides.
(Photo: Saitama DPAS via Facebook [link])

(Image: Saitama DPAS via Facebook [link])

Shiga Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Osaka Aviation Inc.
Base Hino Heliport, Osaka Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1996 (Air Rescue Shiga)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117B-2 JA6763 1105 Awa-umi Dec. 1995 to 2012*
AS365N3 JA25LB 6926 Biwa Sept. 20, 2011**

* Sold to Australian operator April 2012 ** First registered Dec. 2010

Last updated: Oct. 10, 2021

JA25LBA fine shot of Air Rescue Shiga’s distinctive AS365N3 in action on Mount Ibuki, Maibara, in
February 2014.
(Photo: Alpsdake via Wikimedia Commons)

The seemingly winged prefectural flag symbol sported on Biwa’s tail is a stylized version of the name written in katakana (シガ) said to represent harmony and progress. In its flag form, the symbol is white on a blue background so that the central part represents Lake Biwa, the attraction for which the prefecture is most famous; here, the blue lettering serves that purpose.

Shiga Prefecture’s Awa-umi (Pale Sea) stands out vividly against an ominous sky at Fukui Airport
in October 2009. Its green shape being that of Shiga Prefecture, the nose marking
depicted a cartoon mother and baby Lake Biwa catfish
(link).
(Photo: みいさん via Twitter @miisandesu)

Shimane Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Central Helicopter Service Ltd.
Base Izumo Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1994 (Shimane Air Rescue Team [SART])
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

BK117B-2 JA6723 (link) 1092 Hakuchou Jan. 1995 to 2013*
BK117C-2 JA32AR 4022 Hakuchou Nov. 29, 2012**
* New U.S. registration N521KK pending May 2013. (SART website states in service 1994 to Jan. 17, 2013)
** First registered July 2012, SART website gives Feb. 25, 2013 as start of operations
Last updated: Sept. 30, 2021

Shimane’s BK117C-2 in October 2020 (above) and, in a different light (below), at
the prefecture’s Izumo Airport in March 2019.

(Photos: [Top] はちきんvia Twitter @JA6928; [above] たろすけ via Twitter @trooperc3po)

Taken from the prefectural flag, the marking positioned aft of the cabin windows is of four
(shi) stylized katakana マ (ma) arranged in a circle above the black kanji 島根県
(Shimane Prefecture). On the flag the marking usually appears in gold on a
wine-red background, but purple on white was chosen for the aircraft.

(Photo [Kobe Airport, April 2020]: Cathay 451 via Twitter @cathay451a)

Shizuoka Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Shizuoka Air Commuter Corporation
Base Shizuoka Heliport, Shizuoka
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1997 (Air Rescue Team)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

In Service Date(s)/

First Deployment Date

AS365N1 JA9933 (link) 6314   Mar. 1989* to 2009
BK117C-1 JA119R 1110 Orange Arrow Apr. 1, 1997 to Apr. 2020**
AW139*** JA139R 41539 Orange Arrow Mar. 2019
* Operations date back to 1989, but were consigned to Shizuoka Prefectural Police until 1997.
** First registered Feb. 1997, to VH-SRF in 2020 ***Present at Shizuoka Heliport Sept. 2018 
Last updated: Sept. 16, 2021

Its Orange Arrow nickname written in black katakana script along the lower fuselage, JA119R
performs a demonstration flight at an event held at Shizuoka Heliport in October 2018.

(Photo: あっきー via Twitter @donguri_ka)

Sporting a more prominent Orange Arrow livery than its predecessor, the AW139 departs
Shizuoka Heliport in March 2021.
In contrast, the aircraft’s nickname is carried in small
orange
katakana beneath the tail marking. (Photo: Lien via Twitter @roomskyguard)

Conveniently, a little artistic licence turns a map of Shizuoka into the shape of Mount Fuji, which is located on the Shizuoka-Yamanashi prefectural border. Selected for the prefectural flag in 1968, the “map” is orange outlined in white on a blue background. As can be seen in the photo, the BK117 carried an orange-outlined green splodge, but the current AW139 has a classier orange outline (link).

Tochigi Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Honda Airways Co., Ltd.
Base Tochigi Heliport, Haga
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1997 (Tochigi Flying Corps)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA09TG 36130 Ooruri Apr. 1, 1997*
AW139 JA09TR 41514 Ooruri Sept. 1, 2017**
* Aircraft first registered Nov. 1996 (ex N6267J), decommissioned Aug. 31, 2017
** Mitsui Bussan Aerospace announced order for AW139 Dec. 17, 2015, del. Mar. 24, 2017
Last updated: Oct. 11, 2021

In 2020, the Tochigi Flying Corps flew 261 missions, of which 96 were emergencies and 156 were
classed as normal operations. Over the period 2016
(the last full year of Bell operations)
to 2020, an average of 272 flights a year were conducted.
(Photo: @阿久津くんとジクサー。via Twitter @gogogixxer150)

The Bell 412EP that was the predecessor of Tochigi’s AW139 during a display at
JGSDF Utsunomiya in May 2013.

The pea-green Tochigi Prefecture flag seen here on the tail of the Bell 412EP in May 2013 now
graces that of the AW139. The design comprises a white stylized kanji
栃 (tochi, meaning
horse chestnut, not surprisingly the prefecture’s official tree) and the ancient Chinese
for
gi (tree) in the form of three arrows.

Tokushima Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Shikoku Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Tokushima Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1998
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

BK117C-1 JA109R 1116 Uzushio June 10, 1998*
BK117C-2 JA109A  4044 Uzushio Jan. 24, 2018**
* Aircraft first registered Mar. 1998
** KHI announced order for replacement BK117C-2 Jan. 6, 2016, and its delivery on Sept. 28, 2017 
Last updated: Mar. 16, 2018

Tokushima BK117Tokushima took delivery of BK117C-2 JA109A in September 2017. (Photo: KHI)

Shaped like a flying bird, the yellow tail marking is not surprisingly that of the Tokushima prefectural flag emblem, a stylized hiragana とく (toku, meaning virtue). The colour scheme of the aircraft’s tail matches the flag, which is officially indigo, as Tokushima is famous for its dye production.

The unit’s initial equipment, BK-117C-1 JA109R, at the Tokushima air show in September 2016.
(Photo: JMSDF Tokushima AB)

The first Uzushio (Whirlpool), photographed from the control tower at JMSDF Komatsushima on
the day of the base’s air show in July 2017.
(Photo: Hiro via Twitter @hirorin88JMSDF) 

Tottori Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Aero Asahi Corporation
Base Tottori Airport
Date Formed July 6, 1998 (Tottori Air Rescue Team)
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA31TT 36167 Tottori Feb. 2, 1998*
AW139 JA31TA 41381 Daisen c. March 2015
* Aircraft first registered in Nov. 1997 (ex N7224Q), photo from Feb. 2015 (link).
Last updated: Aug. 10, 2017

Named after a dormant volcanic peak in Tottori, Daisen was photographed during a visit to Kounan
Airport, Okayama Prefecture, in July 2018. The fuselage marking is the Tottori Prefecture
flag, which incorporates the
hiragana form of the first syllable と (to) in the shape 
of a bird
(tori). (Photo: トリトン (Triton_Photo) via Twitter @toriton84)

A still from YouTube footage (link) of Tottori’s former Bell 412EP departing Yao Airport,
Osaka Prefecture, in August 2015.

Toyama Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Toho Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Toyama Airport
Date Formed

Apr. 1, 1996

(Toyama Fire & Disaster Prevention Aviation)

 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA6768 36107 Toyama Jan. 12, 1996
AW139 JA119W 41550   (Flight testing Sept. 2019)
* Aircraft first registered in Nov. 1995 (ex N82627)
Last updated: Oct. 24, 2019

The Toyama unit’s initial equipment Bell 412EP JA6768 was finally and officially retired on
March 31, 2020, having completed 6,600 hours’ flying time in its 24 years of service, or an
average of 275 hours a year.
 (Photo: 巴士芸人 via Twitter @Space_Wing)

The Toyama AW139 at Chofu Airport, Tokyo, where operator Toho Air Service maintains an office.
(Photo [May 2019]: なぎさ via Twitter @KatanoNagisa)

Wakayama Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Toho Air Service Co., Ltd.
Base Nanki Shirahama Airport
Date Formed Oct. 1, 1995
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

Bell 412EP JA6760 36094 Kishuu Mar. 9, 1996*
Bell 412EPI       (Ordered 2019)
* Aircraft first registered in July 1995
Last updated: Sept. 21, 2021

Set to be replaced by a Bell 412EPI, the Wakayama 412EP flies past the Ocean View Ferris Wheel
attraction at the Adventure World theme park in Nishimuro, Wakayama Prefecture.

(Photo [undated]: 回収犬 via Twitter @retriever666)

Kishuu’s tail bears the marine blue prefectural flag marking of a stylized wa (ワ) for Wakayama.
(Photo [July 2020]: なぎさ via Twitter @KatanoNagisa)

Yamagata Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Tohoku Air Service Inc.
Base Yamagata Airport
Date Formed Apr. 1, 1998
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

AS365N2 JA98YA 6533 Mogami Apr. 1, 1998*
AW139 JA15YA 41390 Mogami Reg’d Oct. 2014 to Mitsui Bussan.
Test flown Sendai, late March 2015
*Aircraft first registered Jan. 1998 (ex G-BXLL)
Last updated: Apr. 22, 2015

 Yamagata AS365N2 (JA98YARetracting the undercarriage, the pilot of Yamagata’s AS365N2 increases airspeed on takeoff
from Yamagata Airport in May 2011. This aircraft was replaced by the AW139 after
17 years’ sterling service,.
(Photo: contri via Wikimedia Commons)

Whereas Ehime Prefecture has a reputation as one of Japan’s tangerine-growing areas, Yamagata
is famous for its cherries, and thus a pair adorns each side of the current
Mogami. The unit’s
aircraft are traditionally named after a river that passes though all four of Yamagata’s regions.

(Photo: モツ鍋幸行[丙種] via Twitter @tobu_moha8516)

On top of its nose, the AW139 carries a large white Yamagata Air Rescue badge of an elaborate
winged design; this was in gold on the AS365N3
(link).
(Photo [August 2019, Tochigi Heliport]: 祥 via Twitter @rescue60k)

Note that the winged nose marking design incorporates the prefectural flag marking carried on
the tail
(see below). (Image from Yamagata Air Rescue publicity brochure)

(Image from Yamagata Air Rescue publicity brochure)

On the side of the fuselage is another Yamagata Air Rescue badge (above), a shield depicting two thistle-like safflowers, the prefectural flower, above the words SINCE 1998. A version of this was also carried in miniature on the rear cabin doors of the AS365N3 (link).

J-HangarSpace had to elicit the help of an official within the Yamagata Prefecture disaster prevention organization to ascertain the significance of the large mysterious square marking on both sides of the aircraft’s rear fuselage. It turns out that Mogami also serves as a flying billboard, as the marking is the brand logo for Tsuyahime, a variety of organic rice cultivated in designated areas in the prefecture. (Adding the name might increase the marking’s effectiveness for those unfamiliar with agricultural products!)

The form of the marking is that of a colorful “rice symbol” reference mark ※ that in Japanese serves the same function as an asterisk.

(Photo [June 2020, Yamagata Airport]: KOHYA via Twitter @kij_photo)

As yamagata literally translates as mountain-shaped and can also mean a chevron, the prefectural flag marking is of a row of three snow-covered peaks on a light blue background. These serve to denote Dewa Sanzan, the three sacred mountains (Mts. Gassan, Haguro and Yudono) of the ancient province of Dewa (modern-day Yamagata) and the Mogami River. As both aircraft have sported cherry red colour schemes, the mountain emblem tail marking has been blue edged in white.

Training at Yamagata Airport, March 2018 (Photo: Cp9asngf via Wikimedia Commons)

Yamaguchi Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Asahi Helicopter Co., Ltd.
Base Yamaguchi-Ube Airport
Date Formed Jan. 1, 2000
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

BK117C-1 JA21YA 1124 Kirara May 1, 2000*
AW169 JA35AR 69080 Kirara May 2019
* Aircraft first registered Feb. 2000
Note: On Aug. 2, 2017, Mitsui Bussan announced order for an AW169 for spring 2019 delivery
Last updated: Sept. 18, 2021

(Photo [June 2018]: れんし via Twitter @Kirara21YA)

Both Kirara in front of the unit’s hangar at Yamaguchi-Ube Airport in August 2019.
(Photo: れんし via Twitter @Kirara21YA)

(Photo [Dec. 2020]: れんし via Twitter @Kirara21YA)

Yamanashi Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit
Operator Japan Aviation Academy Network (JANET) Corporation
Base Japan Aviation Academy, Futaba Heliport
Date Formed Apr. 26, 1995
 
Helicopter Type Reg’n c/n Name

First Deployment Date

S-76B JA6748 (link) 760429 Akafuji Apr. 26, 1995*
S-76D JA223Y 761077 Akafuji Apr. 2018
* Aircraft first registered Jan. 1995
Last updated: Sept. 16, 2021

Devoid of any prefectural flag markings, the Yamanashi aircraft’s only departure from what
appears to be essentially a corporate colour scheme is the Mt. Fuji design and its
Akafuji (Red Fuji) name incorporated into the cheat lines.
(Photo [Chofu Airport, Tokyo, Jan. 2020]: Wilco via Twitter @Wilco11886715)

logors25

Notices

Announcements

JASDF
Air Shows in 2023
Mar. 5  Komaki
Apr.*  Kumagaya
Nov. 3  Iruma
* To be confirmed

Air Shows in 2022
Apr. 3  Kumagaya
              (Cancelled)
May  Miho (cancelled)
May 22  Shizuhama

            (Limited event)
June 5  Hofu-Kita
June 11  Nara

July 31  Chitose

Aug. 28  Matsushima

Sept. 4  Ashiya
   (Limited event,
    restrictions applied)

Sept. 11  Misawa

Sept. 19  Komatsu
Sept. 23  Akita
Oct. 23  Hamamatsu
Nov. 3 Iruma

Nov. 13  Gifu

Nov. 27  Tsuiki

Dec. 4  Hyakuri
Dec. 4  Nyutabaru
Dec. 11  Naha
* By prior
     application only
* To be confirmed

Air Shows 2020/21
All cancelled

Air Shows in 2019
Komaki 2019 poster
Mar. 2  Komaki
Apr. 14  Kumagaya
May 19  Shizuhama
June 2  Hofu-Kita
June 2  Miho
Aug. 4  Chitose
Aug. 25  Matsushima
Sept. 8  Misawa
Sept. 16  Komatsu
Oct. 13  Ashiya
Oct. 20  Hamamatsu
Nov. 3  Iruma
Nov. 9  Komaki
Nov. 10  Gifu 
Nov. 23  Kasuga
Dec. 1  Hyakuri
Dec. 7-8  Naha
Dec. 8  Tsuiki
Dec. 15  Nyutabaru

air-festa-hohu_img2019rs

iruma191103(2)rs

JGSDF
Air Shows in 2022
Cancellations:
Apr.  Narashino
Apr.  Somagahara

Apr.  Jinmachi
May Kita-Utsunomiya
May  Kasumigaura

July 24  Okadama
Oct. 1 Tokushima
Nov.  Tachikawa
              (cancelled)
Nov. 13  Akeno

Nov. 20  Yao
Dec.  Kisarazu
             (cancelled)

Air Shows 2020/21
With exception of
Akeno (only limited
access), all cancelled

Air Shows in 2019
narashino1ab2019koukahajimers
Jan. 13  Narashino
 (paratroop display)
Apr. 13  Kasuminome
Apr. 13  Somagahara
May 12  Takayubaru
June 1  Kasumigaura
June 16  Kita-Utsunomiya
June 23  Okadama
Oct. 6  Metabaru
Nov. 3  Akeno
Nov. 9  Tachikawa
Nov. 17  Naha
Nov. 24  Yao
Dec. 8  Kisarazu

metabaru191006rs
Metabaru
tachikawa191109rs
Tachikawa

JMSDF
Air Shows in 2022

Apr. 30  Omura
May  Iwakuni
(Joint Friendship Day)
May  Kanoya
         (Both cancelled)


July 17  Komatsushima

July 18  Tateyama
Sept. 10  Hachinohe

Oct. 1  Tokushima
Oct. 22  Shimofusa
(announced Sept. 21,
            limted event)

Oct. 30  Ozuki
(announced Sept. 28)

Air Shows 2020/21
All cancelled

Air Shows in 2019
Apr. 27  Atsugi
Apr. 28  Kanoya
May 5  Iwakuni
(joint Friendship Day)
May 18  Maizuru
May 19  Omura
July 13-14
          Komatsushima
July 27  Tateyama
Sept. 21  Hachinohe
ozuki191020rs

Oct. 20  Ozuki
Oct. 26 Shimofusa
Nov. 17  Tokushima

oomura190519rs

shimofusa191026rs

(*) Date to be confirmed

(Please note that air show dates are subject to change/cancellation.)

Links

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Asian Air Arms

The Aviation Historian

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Japan Association of Aviation Photo-
graphers
(JAAP)

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(Site dedicated to displayed aircraft in Asia)
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JMSDF

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