County to replace four helicopters for Sheriff’s Department

0
33
WEBwestfire1.jpg

Over the next five years, four helicopters owned by the County of San Diego and operated by the Sheriff’s Department will be replaced.

A 4-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote Aug. 7, with Dianne Jacob recovering from surgery, authorized the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to issue a competitive solicitation for one Bell 407GX helicopter outfitted with standardized Sheriff’s Department equipment with the option to purchase three additional helicopters.

Over the next five years, four helicopters owned by the County of San Diego and operated by the Sheriff’s Department will be replaced.

A 4-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote Aug. 7, with Dianne Jacob recovering from surgery, authorized the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to issue a competitive solicitation for one Bell 407GX helicopter outfitted with standardized Sheriff’s Department equipment with the option to purchase three additional helicopters.

The Sheriff’s Department includes the Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies unit which assists in locating suspects, search and rescue operations and firefighting. The ASTREA fleet has nine helicopters consisting of three Bell 205 helicopters assigned to the fire and life safety program, four MD 500 series helicopters and two Bell 407 helicopters which are assigned to the law enforcement program but have the capability to support the fire and life safety program in the event of a wildfire or during high-risk weather conditions.

The acquisition of the first Bell 407 helicopter was approved by the Board of Supervisors in June 2006, and after the Sheriff’s Department obtained that helicopter, the two oldest MD 500 helicopters were declared surplus equipment. An increase in missions led to the need for a second Bell 407 helicopter, and in February 2014 the Board of Supervisors approved procurement of that aircraft.

ASTREA’s oldest helicopter is referred to as an MD 500D model although McDonnell Douglas did not acquire Hughes’ helicopter division until 1984 and the MD 500D was manufactured in 1981. The ASTREA fleet also includes an MD 530F manufactured in 1999 and two MD 530F models manufactured in 2000. All four of those aircraft have more than 9,900 flight hours.

One of the helicopters has been out of service for six months due to the need for engine repair and another has a crack in the structural skin. Parts are becoming harder to acquire for the MD 500 series models. The Sheriff’s Department expressed a preference to replace the MD 500 series helicopters over the next five years, and the desire to have a fleet from a common manufacturer will allow for standardized training and will be more cost-effective when maintenance is needed on the Bell helicopters. The county supervisors approved the sole source provision for the helicopter model as well as the procurement procedure for the new aircraft.

The estimated cost for each Bell 407GX helicopter is $5,200,000 although the competitive solicitation will determine the actual cost. The money for the first helicopter was budgeted by providing $3,864,747 from asset forfeiture revenue, $668,975 from the Sheriff’s Department capital improvement budget, and $666,278 from the ASTREA trust fund.

The ongoing training, maintenance and operation costs will be part of the Sheriff’s Department budget. Parts and services including components for specific operations will be obtained from Bell, from Bell authorized distributors and service centers, from original equipment manufacturers, from the civil aerospace division of Rolls Royce, and from specialized Federal Aviation Administration repair facilities. The Department of Purchasing and Contracting will enter into negotiations with those vendors to award contracts for outfitting components and for repair and maintenance.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here