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How much does it cost to operate the Wilmington police helicopter?

Shannan Bowen

The Wilmington Police Department budgets $245 per flight hour for all operational expenses for its SABLE helicopter. That price includes fuel, hangar, insurance, maintenance and all other costs, said Lt. George Perkins of the Wilmington Police Department.

He said the helicopter has been instrumental many times in catching criminals over the three years the city has used it.

Spokeswoman Lucy Crockett said police officers assigned to the helicopter sometimes do not keep track of each time they have successfully assisted officers who are on the ground in locating a suspect or assistance in other tasks.

In March 2008, however, the StarNews reported that the SABLE helicopter program responded to 412 calls for service and aided in 43 arrests since it started in January 2007.

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4 Responses to “ How much does it cost to operate the Wilmington police helicopter?”

  1. On May 19, 2010 at 9:14 pm William Gaylord wrote:

    Your answer is not sufficient. How often are they out joy riding around town at the tax payers expense? It seems to me they are out at least several times a day and I’m sure the amount of crime they prevent while flying around is less than the amount that could be prevented by adding another cop on the street for less money. Just one more example of government waste.

  2. On May 20, 2010 at 10:17 am billy wrote:

    There is usually a huge difference in what someone budgets, and what something costs. This response does not answer the question.

  3. On May 20, 2010 at 12:34 pm TOM wrote:

    The dollar amount given for this helicopter for operational expenses per hour just does not add up.

    Fuel alone at a low price of $4.00 a gallon would be about $90.00 per flight hour figuring on 22 gallons an hour consumption. The remaining $155 per hour cost in no way could cover the hangar, insurance and maintenance.

    These machines have time change items that require replacement at specified times. Major components that would involve great expense to replace are the engine, transmission, tail rotor gearbox, rotor blades, tail rotor blades. Most flight departments would budget these figures in to their direct operating costs.

    Other maintenance would be on top of the time change items. It seems to this longtime helicopter pilot (38 years) that there has not been full disclosure on this aircraft and the true cost per flight hour.


  4. On May 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm Kinion wrote:

    SABLE is paid for entirely by drug seizure money and the contributions of neighboring jurisdictions that use its services. There is no government waste.

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