The Californian city of Fontana is putting a budget request in this week for two police-role helicopters, a low-time Robinson R44 with just 140 airframe hours, and a new R66.
Police Chief Rodney Jones is preparting to ask city council’s approval on Tuesday to use $500,000 in asset seizure funds to purchase the near-new R44 for $415,000 and spend another $85,000 to install more advanced equipment on it.
The R66 is expected to attract “financial incentives” for being a lead customer – helping Robinson to iron out the bugs in the police role equipment – but will still cost about $1.1 million.Â Jones plans to use the asset seizure fund to place a $300,000 downpayment on the R66, and then take a fifteen year lease that will cost $72,000 annually.
Fontana Police Department currently has a helicopter contract with California Aviation Services of Riverside costing $497,250 per year.Â The operator provides an R44 and its pilot while the Fontana Police provide an observer.
Industry sources had tipped off HeliHub.com at the Helitech show in September that Fontana were going to be the first R66 law enforcement customer, and news of a budget application would appear to confirm this.Â When we enquired with Robinson Helicopter Co two weeks back, all they would say is that no police role R66 was on order.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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