The Huntington Beach, California, Police Department is awaiting the arrival of three new helicopters for its aerial fleet. In January 2021, the department signed a contract with MD Helicopters (MDHI) to replace its fleet of aging helicopters. Part of this process was to include selling the department's three remaining helicopters.
In February 2022, a 14-year veteran of the department was killed when one of those three helicopters crashed. Officer Nicholas Vella was operating as the tactical flight officer the night of the crash, according to Fox 11 Los Angeles. The helicopter pilot reported that the helicopter suddenly yawed aggressively to the right while responding to a fight in progress. When the pilot attempted to arrest the rotation, the helicopter did not respond and progressed into a spinning descent. The helicopter eventually crashed into the ocean. The pilot survived. The full National Transportation Safety Board report on the cause of the crash will not be released until at least next year.
One of the other helicopters sold just prior to the crash to a buyer in Australia, in January 2022. The remaining helicopter will be sold once the department takes delivery of the new ones.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the helicopters, which cost a combined $7.3 million, will begin arriving in November 2022. The MD-530Fs have tail rotors, and have more power than the previous model the department used. The L.A. Times reports that the more powerful engines will allow the department to carry more people and heavier payloads.