Police helicopter a waste

I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a member of the MLA talking about the police helicopter.

Now my understanding is that the helicopter was purchased for about $1.8 million and then transported to the USA for modification work to be carried out.

These included fitting an emergency beacon, fitting the mounts for a hoist, painting and let’s not forget the consultation fees. All this came to around a million dollars? I find this an incredible cost and cannot believe the time this has taken, over a year to do this work. Now we hear that there are floats that need to be fitted. How much more time and money is required for this?

There is already a helicopter on the Island quite capable of doing the work that this helicopter has been bought for.

The police helicopter is an EC135, which is a twin engined helicopter, therefore will be burning that much more fuel per hour than the single engine AS350 already here.

The EC135 still requires floats to be fitted at who knows what cost; the helicopter on island is already fitted with floats.

The EC135 is not capable of SAR missions in that it cannot fulfil CAA requirements with regard to hovering with one engine whilst operating a hoist, the helicopter on island has already carried out SAR missions for the police.

The EC135 will not be able to operate with civilians on board as it will be flying under police operating rules, therefore will not be able to transport civilians to and from the Sister Islands. Think of medevac issues. The helicopter on island is capable of flying these missions.

To maintain an aircraft costs money whether it is working or just sitting around in a hanger, maintenance costs, place in a hanger, pilots, maintenance personnel, spares, training etc.; it all adds up.

Surely it would make more financial sense to lease X many hours a year from the helicopter company already here?

The budget required to run a dedicated police helicopter unit complete with personnel and backup for one year would probably give you two to three years of leased time with the helicopter company operating here already as you would only be buying the hours you use?

As the police already use the helicopter here shouldn’t this be a consideration before even more time and money are spent on a project that seems to be costing more and more every time we hear about it?

Philip McCraking

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