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Phoenix police ask city officials for new helicopters, airplanes

(Flickr Photo/@hamham730)

PHOENIX — Phoenix police officials have asked the city to consider purchasing new helicopters and airplanes for its air unit that could be cheaper than fixing them.

Officials said that the fleet was experiencing high maintenance costs to keep the planes and helicopters in the air.

“Maintenance is a part of the daily operations of the unit and its, quite frankly, very extensive,” said Phoenix Police Cmdr. Grady Carlson.

Carlson said the department had already spent $1.8 million so far this year.

“We already know we’re expected to spend an additional $1.6 million in the upcoming months,” he said.

Carlson said that theoretically an aircraft’s life is infinite as long as repairs and maintenance are done.

However, he said that the city may be wise to capitalize on the fleet’s resale value. He also said Phoenix should consider sticking to a seven-year lifecycle for the aircraft.

Police officials estimate that the resale value on all current Phoenix aircraft equates to almost $23 million while replacements would cost about $48 million.

The two police officials at the meeting offered multiple solutions, including continued maintenance of the already-owned aircraft or replacement of the aircraft through outright or lease purchases.

The council directed the police officials to research the options more in-depth and to provide a recommendation for the council for their upcoming budget hearings.

“It does save lives, it does secure our neighborhoods and it does help the police officers,” said Councilman Michael Nowakowski.

Over the course of a year, the Phoenix Police Department’s Air Support Unit responds to 10,000 calls and log about 5,000 flight hours. The current fleet is comprised of six helicopters and four airplanes and has 36 personnel — including 24 pilots and an 11-person full-time maintenance staff.

The Phoenix air support unit was established in 1973 and operates yearround.

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