March 10, 2009
The San Bernadino, Calif., police department uses a Robinson R44.
Like many manufacturers in today’s economy, Robinson Helicopter has seen orders for R22s and R44s decline. However, Robinson Helicopter also offers turnkey police and newscopter model R44s at a fraction of the acquisition and operating costs of larger turbine models, and business in those segments is booming.
According to Kurt Robinson, vice president of customer support, “We are getting a lot of calls from police departments and ENG [electronic news gathering] operators looking for more economical options.” He added, “Police departments are saying that their budgets are getting cut, but they do not want to give up having air support.”
The same is true for ENG operators who are also experiencing reduced budgets but want to maintain aerial coverage. The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the fifth largest television market in the U.S. and a case in point. Robinson’s Newscopter now serves as the primary news and traffic reporting helicopter for three of the four major television stations and is the backup helicopter for the fourth network.
Robinson Dealer SKY Helicopters, located at the Garland, Texas, Heliport, just northeast of Dallas owns and operates six R44 Newscopters. “By avoiding the high operating cost of older turbine helicopters and innovative resource sharing we are able to provide live HD video to TV and Web customers at greatly reduced prices," said Ken Pyatt, president of SKY Helicopters.
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The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) welcomed a Sept. 18 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announcement that it would host a “call to action summit” to address the barriers and potential challenges associated with equipping tens of thousands of aircraft for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) by the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline. ADS-B is a critical component of the NextGen air traffic modernization program.
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