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Phoenix To Weigh Costs Of New Police Helicopters, Airplanes

Phoenix Public Safety Subcommittee
(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
The Phoenix Public Safety Subcommittee receives an update on the police aerial fleet in March 2018.

As Phoenix leaders prepare to hold budget hearings, the police department has its eyes on the sky. Its aerial fleet has four airplanes and six helicopters the department says are ready to be replaced now or very soon.

Commander Grady Carlson recently told the Public Safety Subcommittee they respond to almost 10,000 service calls each year and log approximately 5,000 hours.

“The primary use for those helicopters are patrol flights,” he said. “They fly daily patrol flights, scheduled for 10.5 hours each day.”

Carlson said the airplanes are used for training purposes and to transport detectives across Arizona and to other states, with the largest plane used for high-altitude surveillance.

The department said replacing five AS350B3 helicopters and one twin-engine rescue helicopter solely used to support the Phoenix Fire Department with mountain rescues would cost approximately $35 million.

If the Phoenix Police Department outsourced pilot training, the fleet could be downsized from three fixed-wing Cessna’s to two new Cessna 206 at an approximate cost of $1 million. The cost to replace the 2008 Pilatus PC12, the largest plane in the fleet, would be approximately $6 million.

The subcommittee directed staff to research various buying and leasing options along with maintenance costs so it could evaluate and make a recommendation to the full council.

Phoenix Police Air Unit

  • Founded in 1973
  • Six helicopters, four airplanes
  • Approximately 5,000 flying hours/10,000 annual calls
  • 36 personnel

Source: Phoenix Police Department

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.