Police in the Ohio city of Toledo are considering getting out of air operations as the mandatory overhaul on their Robinson R44 registered N135WB approaches, and they are without the budget to achieve it. The city took delivery of their police-equipped R44 in 2001, with finance coming from a federal grant and department funds.
Local paper Toledo Blade quotes police officials saying “In September, 2005, when it was four years old, the helicopter received such a factory overhaul. The cost of $190,000 at that time was paid with a federal grant”. There is no explanation for why an overhaul was needed so soon after the helicopter was delivered, but perhaps they were flying a significant number of hours and reached the hour limit? Given they now fly it twice a week and have reached the time limit before the airframe hours limit, that seems unlikely.
The Toledo Blade notes that maintenance costs for the city have been minimal because LifeFlight, an air ambulance service operated by Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center and what was then the Medical College of Ohio Hospital, provided free maintenance and hangar space for the police helicopter. Evidently the approximate $300K overhaul cost has not been budgeted for.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Heffernan is reported as saying the R44 could be “sold or scrapped”, clearly showing he has no idea what he is talking about. In no way would a low hour R44 be scrapped – the city of Toledo could easily sell this on to someone who was willing to fund the overhaul and then re-sell it.
As the saying goes, “Failing to plan = Planning to fail”
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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