If the European economy is not doing well, we can’t blame the Massachusetts State Police. They came to a helicopter fly-in at the Plymouth airport (KPYM) yesterday with their new $10 million Eurocopter EC145 (the base helicopter is about $6 million but this one was loaded with options). This complements their existing fleet of Eurocopters, which also includes the AS355 and the AS350.
What about pilots? It seems that one must have 1000 helicopter hours in order to be pilot in command of this $10 million new toy. Civilian flight schools pay approximately $8 per hour, with no pension or health care benefits, for a pilot with 1000 flying hours of experience. The maximum practical amount of commercial flying is about 1200 hours per year, so the annual cost is about $10,000 per year per pilot. The Massachusetts State Police? Approximately $300,000 per year per pilot, including pension, overtime, and health care costs. How about training? In the civilian world, pilots pay for their own training, typically in Robinson helicopters that cost about $170 per hour to operate. The Massachusetts State Police do their training in-house. Do they own any Robinsons? No. It seems that the primary training is done in the AStar 350 (AS350), a jet-powered 6-seater that can land on top of Mt. Everest. It costs about $1000 per hour to run (that’s after incurring the multi-million dollar purchase price).