American Eurocopter announced today that it has delivered an AS350® B3e to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD), which is based in Tucson, Arizona. The aircraft was delivered during a ceremony in American Eurocopter’s Grand Prairie Delivery Center. This marks the delivery of the first AS350 B3e to a law enforcement agency in the United States.
"We are very pleased to be receiving this aircraft," said Lt. Bob Kimmins, the Air Unit Commander for the Pima County Sheriff's Department. "Its capabilities match our diverse needs in terms of the missions we fly and the climate variations we experience."
The AS350 B3e, first introduced at Heli-Expo 2011, is the latest model in Eurocopter's highly popular AStar® series. One of the most notable features on the new model is the powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine with dual-channel digital FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control). The upgraded engine enhances the aircraft’s performance and system management and enables the AS350 B3e to operate at maximum takeoff engine power for up to thirty minutes.
The power and performance advantages are significant for PCSD. Pima County covers over 9,000 square miles, and PCSD pilots may find themselves flying in desert temperatures of 112° one day and mountainous terrain with altitudes of up to 10,000 feet the next.
“The benefits of the AS350 B3e will allow the PCSD to redefine and grow its mission scope,” says Ed Van Winkle, American Eurocopter’s Law Enforcement Market Manager. The primary missions the Sheriff's Department has flown in the past are border crime support and tactical insertion. It will continue with these missions and with the AS350 B3e the PCSD can expand its scope to include search and rescue. “The added power boost will make hoist missions much more feasible should this become an area of future need for the Department, and the proven reliability of the AStar will continue to meet their needs for many years to come,” adds Van Winkle.
The search for a new helicopter came after a tragic accident in early 2011. Lt. Kimmins and Capt. Don Kester were tasked with redefining the Department's helicopter mission and identifying the appropriate aircraft for that mission.
"We flew with the Seminole County Sheriff's Department, the San Antonio Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," shared Kimmins. "All of these agencies were extremely supportive of our investigation and outspoken advocates of the AS350 series."
With the delivery today, Kimmins and Kester's research and hard work has paid off.
"While we can't celebrate this delivery without a sadness for how we got here, we are extremely excited to have partnered with American Eurocopter to restart our helicopter program," said Kimmins. "It is gratifying to know lives will be saved as we continue to look toward the future."
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