NOC leases helicopter for US$5,000 an hour

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NOC leases helicopter for US$5,000 an hour

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Jan 11, 2015

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/NOC ... 62631.html

NOC leases helicopter for US$5,000 an hour
Griffith: Instrumental in dealing with border security and patrols
Asha Javeed
Jan 10, 2015

It will cost US$5,000 (TT$32,000) an hour to use the National Operations Centre’s newly-leased helicopter, a Sikorsky S76D. The NOC will pay US$9.9 million (TT$62 million) for the five-year lease on the helicopter, which was sourced from the helicopter leasing company, Milestone Aviation Group.

The Sunday Express understands the original acquisition of the helicopter was to have it weaponised but Commander Garvin Heerah yesterday shot down that suggestion. Heerah explained that it was outfitted for utility and operational uses, which include troop transport, airborne firefighting, aerial surveillance and border patrol. He explained that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) did not allow NOC to weaponise any aircraft.

Director of the CAA Ramesh Lutchmedial yesterday said the helicopter would not be placed on the civilian registry but would be placed in a special registry classified as State registry. He said the helicopter only came into the country last week and was not yet included on the official registry. He explained that because the helicopter belongs to National Security, it does not have to comply with the rules for civilian aircraft. “Operationally, they can do what they want,” he said.

Lutchmedial explained that the owners of the helicopter met with the CAA and it was agreed that the CAA will have final oversight of the maintenance of the helicopter because the intention is for it to be put back into commercial use after the lease is up. He said the CAA had to review all inspections and modifications of the helicopter, much like what is done for Caribbean Airlines’ fleet.

In a statement issued Thursday, it was noted that the demand for air operations and air law enforcement had increased in the past year. “The present fleet of helicopters operated by the National Operations Centre (NOC) is more than 30 years old and has continued to provide exceptional support due to the robust maintenance programme and professionalism of the NOC flight crews,” the statement from the Ministry of National Security had said.

It noted that Government has embarked on a helicopter acquisition process in an effort to augment this increased operational demand. “In the interim the NOC has leased two helicopters, one Sikorsky 76 aircraft outfitted for operational, utility, medevac and troop transport and one AS 355 light twin used helicopter outfitted for Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) law enforcement support,” it said.

Heerah said the recommendation for the helicopter came from the National Helicopter Services Ltd (NHSL), which NOC used in an advisory capacity for the acquisition.

Chairman of the NHSL Captain Mark Desant said NHSL had a pre-existing management contract for the helicopters with the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT) for the helicopters which was similar to what it now has with NOC. “It was not recommended by us. They got to choose whatever they wanted. And they wanted the type we use,” said Desant.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith said that the helicopters will prove instrumental in dealing with boarder security and assisting land operations during police patrols. In terms of aerial surveillance, he noted that the blimp was not covert enough. “The blimp was not covert and that was one of the obvious problems. In addition, it was not giving information on real time. What we have with the helicopter is real time footage which will be fed to the NOC for rapid response,” he said.

He said the helicopters will be very visible for Carnival fetes.

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