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Helicopter Prep Continues

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service helicopter in flight.

The fully-functional Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) helicopter will be ready for delivery by the end of this year. This follows months of coordinated efforts by members of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs and RCIPS to evaluate and make informed decisions regarding the helicopter.

After extensive evaluation of the EC-135 T1 aircraft capabilities, the RCIPS' need for aerial support and the Civil Aviation restrictions and guidelines, it was decided earlier this year that, for the benefit of residents and visitors, the establishment of a police air operations unit utilizing the purchased helicopter should continue.

The helicopter is capable of flights over water, including those from Grand Cayman to, and between the Sister Islands in its intended policing role.

Expressing pleasure at recent developments, Deputy Chief Secretary Franz Manderson said, "The project's objective is to bring this aircraft into local service as part of a collaborative air operations strategy. We aim to integrate it into the RCIPS effort to ensure public safety and border protection for the country."

Also commenting on the helicopter, Police Commissioner David Baines said, "The provision of a helicopter would provide a much-needed tool in the armory to tackle the smuggling of people, drugs and guns through the borders of these Islands."

Meeting this goal entails final aircraft preparations in Louisiana, USA, staff selection and training and identification of a maintenance service provider and pilots.

It also includes submitting documents to the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority (CICAA) for the grant of a Police Air Operators Certificate and specialized training for the new RCIPS Air Operations Unit.

As part of the intense preparations initiative, final modifications are now being made. Ongoing work involves the RCIPS and the CICAA, with both expecting that certification requirements and aircraft work will be completed later this year.

Meanwhile the aircraft completed airworthiness requirements at the Louisiana facility last month. It was successfully flight-tested following major servicing and the helicopter completed four flight hours, with positive results on both flight and ground tests.

Content of a January 2009 Assessment of Options report prepared in collaboration with the CICAA had confirmed, 'there is nothing to prevent the EC135 T1 entering service as a police helicopter, subject to the certification process.' That detailed report was the basis of the decision to continue preparations to ready the aircraft for service.

The helicopter will be able to carry out over-water search operations and is fully-equipped with a daylight and thermal image night-vision camera, a searchlight, and a PA system. Its stabilisation system requires neither an autopilot, nor floatation devices.

The EC-135 is undergoing some minor modifications to fit police tactical radios and a second aviation standard GPS unit, and to remove redundant equipment. Final details include fitting a specialized digital airborne radio system that is compatible with the Cayman Islands public radio system.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Lennon Christian