First female police pilots patrol sky over Beijing

Beijing police have improved their ability to protect the country's capital after four pilots joined the ranks of the Municipal Public Security Bureau's helicopter team on Thursday.

The pilots, three women and one man, started their duties after completing two years' training, the bureau said.

It is the first time the bureau has trained female pilots to fly the Agusta A109 helicopters on police patrols.

The pilots were selected from 600 applicants in Beijing's police force. They were formerly assigned to police stations and have bachelor's degrees or above.

The pilots followed aviation courses in a school in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, 10 months' training in the United States, and flight training sessions organised by the bureau.

Beijing's helicopter team was formed in Dec 2005 and has played an important role in safeguarding major events, including the 2008 Olympics Games and the celebration of the country's 60th anniversary.

Police helicopters play a vital role in searching for missing people in the hiking areas of Beijing. In 2011, they helped to rescue two parties of hikers that became lost in a mountainous area of the city's suburbs.

China's first police helicopter team was set up in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in 1993. The country now has 25 such teams and 45 police helicopters manned by 110 pilots and 200 crew members.