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Money Drives Multi-Mission Capability


Money is the reason why helicopters are intrinsically multi-mission platforms. When companies pay a lot for expensive flying machines, they want to get their money’s worth.


“The helicopter is too valuable an asset to be restricted to a single role,” says Kurt Robinson, president of Robinson Helicopter Company. “Missions are bundled together to get maximum use from a single machine at a single base. A fixed- base operator offering a mixture of training, scenic flights, aerial photography, Part 135 air taxi, and aircraft rental services is not uncommon.”


As pioneering users of helicopters, military services were the first to realize the importance of getting the most for their money. “Once you have this expensive


and highly technical capability in place for something like search and rescue, it’s only natural to maximize its usefulness by conducting other missions,” says Scott Craig, aviation R&D program manager with the U.S. Coast Guard. “Transportation of people and equipment to remote locations is an obvious example, or using helicopters to conduct law enforcement patrols.


“The missions that work well on a common platform need to use portable or possibly palletized cargo and equipment, which are relatively easy to swap out on an as-needed basis,” he adds. “For instance, installing an airborne use-of-force package into Coast Guard helicopters is now common practice when and where needed.”


The expense of acquiring and maintaining a public safety helicopter often compels government owners to share this cost among multiple departments such as


EMS, fire, police, and public utilities; each is rewarded by flying missions tailored to its specific needs.


Dan Schwarzbach, executive director/CEO of the Airborne Public Safety Association (APSA), says the resulting requirement for multi-mission helicopters – as driven by this sharing – is actually good for everyone involved.


“There’s no reason not to share the asset and to use a helicopter to its full capability,” says Schwarzbach. “Doing so adds value to the aviation unit and makes sense financially to the taxpayers and the bean counters.”


“Typically public service missions go well together where operators provide EMS, law enforcement, and SAR missions for their citizens,” added Mike Bucari, Leonardo’s head of Marketing - Americas. “The reason


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Nov/Dec 2020


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