22-Sep-2011 Source: HeliHub.com
In a major about-turn, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has this week approved the purchase of four new Eurocopter EC120s and support package for $9.5 Million.Â Less than two years ago, she had threatened to ground the Police Department in a budget reduction plan.
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III was on hand to thank the Board of Estimates for executing the sole-source agreement with American Eurocopter.Â By sticking with the same helicopter type, the new aircraft will be compatible with the parts stocked by the police departmentâ€™s aviation unit and no type cross-training of pilots, crewmembers and maintenance personnel will be required.
Central to this whole situation in the Maryland city is that the current fleet are up for their 12 year overhauls from 2012, so purchasing new will sidestep the availability issues that long-term maintenance would otherwise bring the unit.Â The current four EC120s – serials 1124, 1199, 1205 and 1219 – have reportedly got a trade-in value of $1.66M. Those funds â€“ plus $2 million in general city funds, $1 million seized from drug raids and $5 million in financing, â€“ will cover the cost of the new units.
William P Johnson – HeliHub.com US correspondent