Long Beach Police Replace Helicopter Fleet With Cost Efficient Models

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File photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The Long Beach Police Department has acquired two air support units from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, in an effort to reduce fuel and maintenance costs.

The mission of the Long Beach Police Department’s Air Support Unit is to provide direct support to daily patrol operations as well as support for detectives and SWAT incidents. The helicopter, often first on scene of an emergency call, can evaluate an incident quickly and coordinate ground units with perimeter and containments of large-scale incidents. It is also used to manage vehicle pursuits as well as assisting in locating missing persons and providing mutual aid to other law enforcement agencies.

The Long Beach Police Department has been operating two 2002 Eurocopters EC-130B4 for the past 9 years. Recently, the police department replaced those units with two 2003 Eurocopter AS-350B2 which were bought from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department with asset forfeiture money, at no cost to the city. The units will also receive upgraded equipment that enhances their law enforcement capabilities with grant money, also at not cost to the City of Long Beach.

The newly acquired units have notable cost savings; The major overhaul cost will be reduced by approximately 35% a year. The parts for repair are approximately 25% to 35% less expensive and the 1122 program (fuel cost subsidized by US government) reduces fuel cost by between 30%- 40%. In addition to these savings, AkzoNobel donated paint for both aircraft.

Often times citizens become upset over the noise of the helicopters. Pilots are cognizant of this and try to reduce the noise whenever possible, however, operating altitude is limited due to FAA regulations. Many times helicopter noise is believed to come from a police helicopter when in fact, other helicopters such as, military (Los Alamitos Air Base), other law enforcement agencies, private charter companies and commercial/private helicopters also fly throughout the city.

When in question, the source of helicopter noise my be verified by using the free program “Webtrak” which can be found on the Long Beach Airport’s website at www.lgb.org.

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