At a recent meeting, the Phoenix Police Department and a Phoenix City Council subcommittee discussed the options available for replacing its patrol aircraft.
The Phoenix Police Department’s Aerial Unit consists of 36 personnel, including 24 pilots and tactical flight officers and 11 mechanics certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. The fleet includes six helicopters purchased between 2004 and 2010 and four fixed-wing aircraft purchased and donated between 1979 and 2008. The aircraft fly more than 5,000 hours per year.
According to Tactical Support Bureau Commander Grady Carlson, maintenance is scheduled based on flight hours, and maintenance costs are rising due to the agency’s aging fleet. In fiscal-year 2017, the agency spent $3.2 million on maintenance for aerial units. For the current fiscal year, the agency has spent $1.8 million and expects to spend another $1.6 million in the coming months.
The agency is still working with city officials to determine the best method of replacement — by purchasing, leasing, or utilizing a combination of both methods. If replacement is an option, the agency plans to downsize its fixed-wing aircraft to three units, at a cost of about $8 million. It would also cost an estimated $40 million to replace the agency’s six helicopters.