In their first new helicopter acquisition for 23 years, the Croatian Police have recently bought two Eurocopter EC135s to be based at Lucko. Previously they relied on three Bell 206s (one Agusta-built one dating from 1973) and one Agusta-Bell 212, all of which are now marked for retirement in the next two years.
The first EC135 had a contracted price of around 50 million kuna ($9.05M) including VAT and using funds secured from the National Programme for Road Safety. This figure includes training of eight pilots as well as technicians too. It may also include some spares, as initial contracts are prone to do. HeliHub.com understands that some funds from the European Union were made available as part of the agreement.
The particular helicopter was originally destined for Spain’s Guardia Civil, and is serial 0689. For complex reasons the Guardia Civil never took delivery of the aircraft when it was built at the Eurocopter Spain plant at Albacete in 2008, and has been stored unused there for five years. On arrival in Croatia, a delivery flight of around 1,300 miles, it still only had 20 flying hours on the airframe.
The aircraft was repainted from the white/green scheme of the Guardia Civil into a more typical white/blue law enforcement scheme, based heavily on the Spanish Policia scheme. It was then test flown and delivered with Spanish test registration EC-032 and will fly with the Croatian Police as 9A-HBA.
As part of the launch event earlier this month, Health Minister Rajko Ostojic handed over an automatic external defibrillator (AED) as a symbolic indication that each Policija EC135 will also carry this medical equipment, and all police crews will receive training on how/when to use this equipment prior to medical personnel arriving at an incident location.
On the day of the press presentation of the first aircraft, Croatian Police signed a contract with Eurocopter Spain for a second EC135 at a price of 37 million kuna ($6.69M) from Eurocopter Spain, and may be a Spanish Policia aircraft which has also been in storage at Albacete for five years. Local sources in Zagreb are suggesting an acquisition program for a total of seven EC135s by the end of 2015, althought it is unclear whether these will be new aircraft or law-enforcment equipped aircraft in the pre-used market.
Ben Haverdee – HeliHub.com
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