Add a new $4 million helicopter to Placer County’s hangar

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The Placer County Sheriff’s Department has taken delivery of its new American Eurocopter, the single most expensive piece of equipment ever purchased by the county. The copter is now headed from American Eurocopter’s Grand Prairie, Texas construction facility to San Diego, where Hangar One Avionics will complete work on equipping it with specialized law-enforcement equipment. The cost of the helicopter is just more than $4 million – up from the initial estimate of $3.44 million when the Board of Supervisors approved it two years ago. The new helicopter should be on duty by early fall and marks the Sheriff’s Department’s upgrade from the military surplus chopper it now employs. “We needed a new aircraft with new technology that would provide us with more capability,” Sheriff’s Department chief pilot Sgt. Van Bogardus said in a release from American Eurocopter. The new helicopter is an AS350, which has become popular with law-enforcement agencies around the U.S. American Eurocopter has captured almost 60 percent of the medium-sized, single-engine turbine helicopter market in law enforcement over the past 10 years. The Placer County helicopter will be outfitted for law enforcement and search and rescue missions. “This new helicopter will allow us to enhance our mission capabilities and greatly increase the types of service we provide to the residents of Placer County and the surrounding regions,” Bogardus said. American Eurocopter is the U.S. subsidiary of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world.