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News > San Diego Police Department Take Possession of First A-Star

San Diego Police Department Take Possession of First A-Star

May 4, 2006

Representatives from the San Diego Police Department’s Air Support Unit received the keys to the first of four new AS350 B3 helicopters at a ceremony held at American Eurocopter headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas. The AS350 (“A-Star”) B3 helicopters will replace the SDPD current fleet of aging aircraft. 
“We have one of the oldest helicopters in law enforcement, with thirty-nine years of service,” says Mark Hanten, sergeant of the San Diego Air Support Unity. “We’re updating our fleet in order to improve our capabilities and enhance our efficiency. We feel the A-Star is best suited for our mission, with the latest technology we need to provide state-of-the-art air support, pursuit management and the recording of major incidents. We’re particularly excited about the open cockpit feature of the A-Star, and the air conditioned environment which will reduce fatigue and help aircrew members remain more alert.” 
The open cockpit concept offers excellent visibility, a pilot friendly ergonomic cabin and enhances the crew management concept critical in the law enforcement mission. The low vibration level enables the installation of all the equipment and avionics necessary to create fully integrated law enforcement instrument panels and tactical consoles. The new SDPD helicopters are being equipped with Sagem cockpit display systems, enhancing safety while adding many features and making the highly advanced aircraft even more functional.  
The AS350 B3 is a 6-7 seat, high performance aircraft equipped to perform a wide variety of law enforcement missions: surveillance, command and control, search and rescue, transport, border patrol and aerial support to ground operations. It’s able to perform in high and hot environment and is capable of high pursuit speeds and offers excellent maneuverability, thereby increasing response times. In addition, the aircraft has day and night VFR flight capabilities and can be customized with an NVG capable lighting source. It also features the extra power needed to lift full loads in adverse high-altitude atmospheric conditions. The San Diego Police Department has elected to equip their aircraft with rescue hoist capabilities to include the added flexibility of 450 pound capacity that allows for dual rescue .  
“These were the features that sold us on the A-Star,” says Hanten. “We also determined that we could save a significant amount of money in operational costs compared to other helicopters of similar capabilities.” 
“With the selection of the AS350 B3, the San Diego Police department has joined dozens of other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. that have recently made the same decision based on an informed and detailed selection process,” says Larry Roberts, VP of commercial affairs for American Eurocopter. “Clearly the A-Star, by virtue of its popularity, is the right choice to meet the multi-faceted role of today's airborne law enforcement professionals.”  
Also present at the ceremony were SDPD officer-pilots Rich Parella and Josh Burkhart. John Stanzak, lead flight mechanic gave the keys to Mark Hanten, sergeant of the San Diego Air Support Unit, who has been working on this project for more than two years. 

About American Eurocopter  
American Eurocopter Corp. is the American subsidiary of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world, and EADS North America, the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. American Eurocopter markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer. The product line represents the most cost-effective, technologically-advanced helicopters, ranging from light single to heavy twin, serving all markets and missions. American Eurocopter's headquarters and main facility are in Grand Prairie, TX, with a large new factory in Columbus, Mississippi.  
American Eurocopter supplies a broad range of helicopters designed to serve the corporate, offshore, law enforcement, utility and medical markets, backed by a unique level of customer support. For more information, call or write to American Eurocopter Corporation, 2701 Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX, 75052, (972) 641-0000 or visit our website at .

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