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Thu, Jun 14, 2012

Anaheim Mayor Says 'Not So Fast' On Airplane Purchase

City Had Plans For A Cessna Grand Caravan

The Mayor of Anaheim, CA, has put the (air) brakes on the city's planned $2.2 million purchase of a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan. Mayor Tom Tait says he needs more information before he can approve the purchase.

The city had green-lighted the acquisition last month, saying there was a strong public safety case made for the purchase of the aircraft. But following a productions delay, the issue had to go before the council a second time. In the interim, some adverse media coverage from the Voice of OC, which bills its self as Orange County's Nonprofit Investigative News Agency, Mayor Tait said he needed to have some additional concerns addressed before he would again agree to the purchase.

The Voice of OC reports that police officials justified the plane saying it could also carry fire officials during emergencies, and that it would replace the 12-year-old helicopter that had "reached retirement age."  Some helicopter mechanics told the news service that helicopters don't have a "retirement age," and that the Orange County Fire Authority was still using helos built in 1966. Police Chief John Welter said that it was an invalid comparison, as the police aircraft fly much more often than do the fire aircraft.

Operating costs for a the fixed wing Grand Caravan are about a third of a comparable helicopter, and it will carry more people further than a helo.

Funding for the purchase was to be from seized assets from drug raids, which must be spent for law enforcement. Welter said that the fund is particularly flush right now, due to an increase in asset seizures in recent years. (Cessna Grand Caravan file photo)



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