In the latest issue of Police Aviation News, editor Bryn Elliott floats the idea that the MD Explorer may have a limited time span in service with the UK’s National Police Air Service.
In an article focusing on NPAS’ plan to acquire 3 to 6 fixed wing aircraft, Elliott notes that NPAS have six active Explorers in service which could match with the six fixed wing to be acquired. Additionally, the EC135 fleet operated by NPAS (itself totaling 14 including maintenance spares) is currently subject to an upgrade program while the Explorers are not.
The UK police Explorers include the world’s high-time aircraft G-YPOL which had over 16,600 hours on the airframe in December 2013 and no doubt has more now. Production of the type has all but ceased with only two Explorers built in the last five years, while one of those – along with a 2009-build, remain unsold.
MD has built a total of 130 MD Explorers, excluding the non-flying prototype airframes. Of these, 23 are currently operated in the UK, mostly on air ambulance contracts. The US active fleet only numbers 13, not including the two unsold examples or the MD demonstrator which has been held by the Dutch Police for around nine years for what we understand to be contractual disagreements.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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