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Tue, Oct 23, 2007

Bernalillo County Sheriff Takes Delivery Of New AS350 B3

Replaces Hughes 369 Shot Down In 2005

In a brief but flashy ceremony Monday at the Sandia Casino and Resort north of Albuquerque, NM, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department showed off its new Eurocopter AS350 B3. The helicopter is the first AS350 B3 for the BCSD, and it will be an integral part of the county’s Air Support Unit.

"We needed a high-performance, utility ship to meet the demands of the missions our Air Support Unit is tasked with," said Chief Deputy David Linchicum, upon taking delivery of the black, white and gold helicopter two weeks before. "We had very specific requirements in our acquisition process. We assessed several aircraft and after head-to-head evaluation, our pilots felt the B3 outperformed the others."

The helicopter will be used for patrol and a wide range of support functions, including mountain search and rescue, firefighting, and S.W.A.T. The county has had an air unit for eight years and it consists of 12 people, including tactical, mechanical, two staff pilots and five contract pilots. The department currently has just one other helicopter.

The AS350 replaces the old Metro One -- a Hughes H369 Sky Knight, which was brought down by small-arms fire over an Albuquerque westside neighborhood in August 2005. As ANN reported, that helo was orbiting a crime scene when pilot Chris Holland and Deputy Ward Pfefferle were hit by shrapnel as the bullet entered the plexiglass bubble canopy, struck an anti-torque pedal, fragmented and bounced around the cockpit. 

Even though he was wounded, Holland was able to auto-rotate from approximately 400 feet, landing hard in the backyard of a west Albuquerque residence. Police later arrested Jason Kerns, who initially told police he was a "sniper" and that he saw the entire incident late that night.

The new AS350 B3 -- N911ZZ -- is equipped with a dual FADEC, a vehicle and engine management display (VEMD) that incorporates a first limit indicator (FLI), dual hydraulics, and powered by an ARRIEL 2B1 848 SHP turbine engine.

FMI: www.eurocopterusa.com, www.bernco.gov/live/departments.asp?dept=2318

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