Fontana will spend $2.8 million in American Rescue Plan funds on a previously-owned helicopter to bolster public safety and fire and emergency medical services.
Owned by San Diego-based Shier Aviation, the model AS350B2 (A-star) chopper already is outfitted with law enforcement equipment and will join two Robinson R66 whirlybirds in the city’s fleet.
Firefighting gear capable of carrying a “Bambi Bucket,” or 216 gallons of water weighing 2,100 pounds, will be installed on the newest copter.
The AS350B2 is expected to be delivered immediately.
City leaders unanimously approved the purchase Tuesday, April 12, using funds it received through the federal coronavirus aid package.
According to Fontana’s website, the Air Support Unit aids patrol officers on the street, responding quickly to crimes in-progress and resulting in more arrests and recovery of stolen property.
Police put the first helicopter in service a decade ago.
The R66 copter has a max speed of 149.6 miles per hour and a level speed of 138.1, according to a staff report prepared for the City Council.
In windy conditions, speeds are 69-80 mph, but the aircraft must be grounded during wind gusts of 17.26 mph, or greater and steady winds of 20.71 mph.
Fontana’s strong and constant winds attribute to 30% of down time due to safety standards, city staffers reported.
But, with a max air speed of 178.37 mph, a level speed of 140 and maintaining speeds in windy conditions of 115-140 mph, the A-star should reduce that loss of hours to less than 5%.
Perhaps most importantly, city staffers added, having three helicopters means the city always will have readied aircraft while one or more crafts are in for maintenance.