The Philippine Senate has agreed to update the proposed 2016 budget of the Philippine National Police (PNP) by 11 million Pesos to refurbish a pair of R44s purchased in 2009 but have been grounded for several years as they were subject of a court case.
The PNP actually acquired three R44s in 2009, but they have been mired in controversy after it was discovered that two of these were bought pre-owned and had 498 and 536 hours on the airframes. The third aircraft, a Raven II, was bought new from the factory and around the same time, but damaged beyond repair on top of Mount Bitulayungan in June 2013.
The two pre-owned examples were manufactured 12 years ago, on October 22 and November 19 2003 – and this of course puts them straight into the realms of the R44 overhaul regime. While a long-term grounding would regularly give rise to an overhaul requirement, the six years for the court case to progress is immaterial as the calendar life limit has come round well before the airframe hours.
Previously, the PNP had 9 million pesos in its budget for repair and maintenance of these two R44s, and this has been supplemented by a further 11 million to reach a total of 20 million pesos – approximately $425K – which HeliHub.com believes to be around 15% short of the figure they will need to find – and that assumes zero maintenance for the rest of the year. On the face of it, the PNP may have just one operational R44 this time next year and not two. Unless they flex the budget again.
Local newspaper the Philippine Star also stated that the PNP is seeking a larger “Eurocopter” model for its operations, noting that would be in the 2017 budget, suggesting they may have come down in favour of the EC145 over the Bell 412, two types they were known to be considering in 2012. At that time their shopping list was reported as “six twin engine light utility helicopters with a minimum of 10 seats, nine single engine 7-8 seat helicopters, and a fixed wing transport type with a 40 seat capacity”
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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