ALBANY – State Police received the OK needed to purchase a helicopter that will, among other duties, ferry Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on his travels around the state.
After initially rejecting the purchase last fall, Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli later agreed to let the State Police use a no-bid process to purchase the Sikorsky helicopter. On Wednesday, DiNapoli's office made it public that the final contract for the helicopter has been approved.
The purchase price was $12.5 million.
The comptroller had raised questions about the level of “VIP” amenities in the slightly-used aircraft, which is faster and capable of flying considerably farther than the Bell helicopter Cuomo has been using. DiNapoli also had wanted to know how the State Police would swap out the helicopter's seating to be used for search and rescue and other police missions.
The funding for the helicopter dates back to the 2013 budget. The State Police has said its air fleet is aging and that aircraft had more forced or emergency landings. The new helicopter will allow police on search missions to stay up in the air longer before landing to refuel.
“This purchase brings our fleet up to full strength with a modern aircraft that will be far more reliable and offer significant advantages over our older aircraft. This helicopter is critically important for emergency response missions including search and rescue, medevac, and local law enforcement support,'' said Beau Duffy, a State Police spokesman.
Delivery of the helicopter, a Sikorsky S76-D, is expected in mid-June, Duffy said.
The purchase price also includes $250,000 worth of training for five State Police pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration’s public database does not show a tail number specifically assigned yet to the new Sikorsky.
Officials with DiNapoli’s office said the State Police met the comptroller’s request issued in January for an outside appraisal of the Sikorsky. DiNapoli’s office had raised questions about potential costs for parts and other expenses of the slightly used helicopter and said the appraisal was needed to ensure the pricing was appropriate. Though the new helicopter could cross large parts of the state without refueling, Cuomo also has access to an airplane for longer trips, such as between New York City and Buffalo.
DiNapoli’s office also approved a $273,000 payment to a Manhattan law firm for legal services provided to Cuomo’s Executive Chamber related to the federal probe of the Buffalo Billion and SUNY Nano programs.
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