27-Sep-2011 Source: American Eurocopter
Grand Prairie, Texas â€“ The Pima County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD) in Tucson, Arizona has recently placed an order for its first helicopter from American Eurocopter â€“ an AS350 B3e (AStar).
After a tragic accident earlier this year, Lt. Bob Kimmins and Capt. Don Kester were tasked with redefining the Department’s helicopter mission and identifying the appropriate aircraft for that mission.
For many years, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department maintained aircraft for border crime enforcement and tactical insertion missions, while the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZ DPS) was the primary helicopter provider for the Sheriff’s search and rescue missions. However, recent budget cutbacks by AZ DPS increased the need for PCSD to have search and rescue capability. So, the Sheriff’s Department needed a helicopter capable of supporting all three missions.
“We traveled coast-to-coast meeting with law enforcement agencies with experience flying American Eurocopter, Bell and MD products,” says Kimmins, who is the Departmentâ€™s Tactical Response Commander.Â “By almost unanimous consent the law enforcement officers we spoke with said that the AS350 was the best aircraft for our missions.Â The others didn’t meet the criteria for everything we needed to do.”
â€œThe AS350 B3e is the most recent product evolution of the AStar, incorporating enhanced safety and performance features,â€ said Treg Manning, American Eurocopterâ€™s Vice President of Commercial Sales.Â The aircraft is powered by a new Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine and equipped with a new FADEC and Engine Data Recorder, which enhance performance and system management.
With a population of over 980,000, Pima County covers over 9,000 square miles. â€œThe fast cruising speed of the AS350 B3e will enable rapid response over a large geographic area,â€ said Ed Van Winkle, American Eurocopterâ€™s Law Enforcement Market Manager. â€œThe AS350 B3eâ€™s hot and high performance capability will be put to good use in the diverse and demanding missions of the Pima County Sheriffâ€™s Department.â€
“One day we may be doing a rescue in the desert where it’s 112 degrees, and the next day we could be in a much colder mountain climate at an altitude of over 10,000 feet,” notes Kimmins.
American Eurocopter plans to deliver the AS350 B3e to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in early 2012.