Baines says chopper will work

| 12/08/2009

(CNS): The new police commissioner, David Baines, has stated that the helicopter purchased by the Cayman Islands government for the RCIPS will do more than 90% of the things that it was originally earmarked to do. Baines confirmed that the aircraft would be flown down from Louisiana next month, and once the Air Support Unit is trained and operational he will approach the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority for a licence to operate the machine as a police helicopter and have it flying by the end of the year.

Cutting through the politics of the purchase, Baines explained that, as far as he could see, this was always intended to be a police helicopter. Although it has some limitations which would prevent it from doing medical evacuations and the ‘rescue’ part of search and rescue, if the police could demonstrate a high level of safety awareness and training among the crew that would fly and man the helicopter, he believed the CAA would be happy to licence it as a police air support unit.

He said given that the police operate as an emergency service they would then make judgements based on life and death situations within the boundaries of police operations and safety on how the machine was to be used. Above all, Baines noted, given the current situation, the helicopter would be an extremely useful tool for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and he hoped to have the helicopter flown here in September. “The provision of a helicopter would provide a much-needed tool in the armoury to tackle the smuggling of people, drugs and guns through the borders of these Islands,” he added.

Speaking as a witness to the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday 12 August, Baines took a pragmatic approach. “This is an available asset that will do most of what we want it to do — the best course of action is for us to start using it,” he said. “It fits most of our requirements, even without added expenditure or refit. It is the best option open to us.”

The controversy surrounding the purchase of the EC-135 T1 came to light last year when the previous Cabinet announced at a press briefing that the helicopter purchased by Stuart Kernohan, the former police commissioner, wouldn’t do all of what was originally intended when government had given the green light for an air support unit for the police in November 2006.

In the wake of the political furore and debate that ensued, Auditor General Dan Duguay was asked by the governor to conduct a special report. Duguay found a number of shortcomings: there was a lack of expertise involved in the purchase; a consultant was only hired after the purchase was made; there were limited records of the communication between the former commissioner and previous Cabinet about expectations; there had been a certain amount of mission creep distorting the original purpose of the helicopter; and the parties involved had not engaged the CAA.

Duguay noted that the helicopter became different things to different people and there was never a real consensus on what thecountry wanted from the helicopter. The Cabinet’s desire to have a helicopter that did everything, from passenger transportation to medical evacuation, would never have been able to be combined in one machine with the police requirements for interdiction and border protection, Duguay explained.

Since his report, the fate of the helicopter has hung in the balance. However, a release following the PAC meeting by Government Information Services on Wednesday afternoon suggests that government is in agreement with Baines and will be bringing the helicopter to the islands.

It appears that many of the limitations cited by the previous administration will be overcome when the machine is operated purely as a police helicopter. Deputy Chief Secretary Franz Manderson said the objective was to integrate it into the RCIPS effort to ensure public safety and border protection for the country.

Bringing the helicopter to Cayman will involve aircraft preparations in the USA, staff selection and training, and identification of a maintenance service provider and pilots, as well as specialized training for the new RCIPS Air Operations Unit that will utilize the helicopter.

GIS said the aircraft completed airworthiness requirements at the Louisiana facility last month and was successfully flight-tested following major servicing. In January the CICAA had reportedly confirmed that there was nothing to prevent the EC135 T1 entering service as a police helicopter, subject to the certification process.

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. Aside from minor modifications to fit police tactical radios and a second aviation standard GPS unit, relevant radio systems and to remove redundant equipment, there will be no need to refit the machine, government said.            

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  1. Anonymous says:

    From the Compass 13th August page 9

    He (referring to commissioner Baines) also pointed out that the current aircraft police rent from the Cayman Helicopters company has performed several rescue operations in recent years that it is not licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority to do.
    "I would rather have my knuckles rapped and pay a fine than stand at someone’s funeral", Mr Baines said.
    It appears the commissioner advocates breaking the very laws designed to protect life as an when he pleases.  Baines obviously feels he is above the law and in my opinion is not fit to hold the post he has, since he believes he IS the law, and wants to be some reckless hero
    • Anonymous says:

      More importantly it is worrying that he does not know that Cayman Islands Helicopters operates under a Police Air Operators Certificate attached to their Operations certificate, issued by the CAACI. So it is fully authorised for the functions it performs.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are right – but he is of the opinion he ‘was’ breaking the rules and it was okay to do so as the means justifies the end. 

  2. Mrs. Rita Myles says:

     Yates, you are so right about everything, at times I even have to ask myself what is our little Cayman Isle coming to?  

    What’s going to happen to our Children of the future?

     When we are gone who’s going to fill our shoes?

     Will our Caymanian heritage die out?

      Will the morals we taught our Children not be pass on to their Childrens’ Children?   

    All these questions come to mind and the time to act is now.  The Goverment need to stop blaming the parents and find ways of protecting our boarders from letting guns and drugs come into this Country.    Also they need to set up job preparation programs for our young people and train them before they graduate out of School, so that they can gain the experience that they need to get a decent job.   These young people are just lurking around not doing anything consecutive with their time, thats reasons why they tend to get into trouble, because they are not working or cant get no jobs.   Stop giving away the good jobs to the foreigners and hire more of our young Caymanian men.

    We cannot just leave our young Caymanian men to stray instead we need to try to help them they are what is left of our future.  Prison is not the answer for some of them, group programs will be a great way to help them grow into productive young men.

    I thought Goverment said they were broke!  Where did they get all this money from to get a new Copter I would like to know?  The Goverment need to be more truthful to their Caymanian people and they need to start from now.    

  3. Anonymous says:

    Maybe that’s the idea, bring it down it will be destroyed by a hurricane so we can claim insurance and get our money back on it 😀

  4. Anonymous says:

    just in time for hurricane season

    great idea !!!

    after waiting almost two years , we now  bring the helicopter down at the height of hurrricane season, and risk its destruction ………


    • Anonymous says:

      With respect, December is not the Hurricane season

      • Anonymous says:

        you are correct, hurricane season is over by december…..

        the article however states in part>>>>

        "Baines confirmed that the aircraft would be flown down from Louisiana next month, and once the Air Support Unit is trained and operational he will approach the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority for a licence to operate the machine as a police helicopter and have it flying by the end of the year"

        As i know it  ( next month),  september is the height of hurricane season…..and, with no place to secure the aircraft,… it certainly appears we are putting our investment at uneccesary risk……Too, i do not believe it has the capacity to fly out of harms way in the event of an impending storm……  it would have to go west more than likely to get out of the path of an approaching storm, and it doesnot have sufficient range  to do that ( to reach land)……….

        umless of course cuba would let it in, though any storm coming to cayman would stand a good chance of hitting cuba also………….

        not to mention, it also seems their is no one approved/licensed  to fly the helicopter, nor will it be licensed before december ……

        . i would just hate to see it trashed due to lack of common sense planning…….



  5. Yates says:

      I belive Mr. Baines is doing a wonderful job so far, and I praise him as a Caymanian Citizen for showing us that we can once again put back our faith and trust in the Police Dept.   He has hire new recruits that’s a big plus and he has put more officers on our streets.  

     Mr. Baines I salute you, but one thing I really wanted to say to you and this Goverment is to try to at least overlook the constituition and try to put  the gun law back in effect for Officers to protect themselves and our good citizens.  I believe it’s high time that all Police Officers start carrying guns, and we should all vote for this new constitution.

    Times are changing and we now have a new generation of vipers, a generation that is so out of control not even the parents can control them.   Not only is drugs being smuggle into this Country also Guns and we need to do something about this situation before it gets more out of hand.   Cayman is now the new Kingston of Jamaica, our Citizens are so scare these days to live in our own Country and that is not right.   We cant even leave our windows and doors open anymore like we used to, this is very sad.

    To the Immigration dept let me say something to you guys, slow down on giving out too much Caymanian Staus to these expatraits before you all do a criminal background check on them all!  Start finger-printing each and everyone of them for it’s not only our young Caymanian men doing these crimes it’s also expatraits.  I read the statictics the other day and I founded out that they are now more expatraits here than Caymanians, I could not believe what I was reading, I have nothing against these expatraits, but do you all ever STOP and think for even a second that your all are over-doing it?  Or are you trying to run your own Caymanians out our own Country?  

    Common sense will tell you all that the more people we try bring in here to live here in this Country the more the crime rate would go up!

    As parents we can only try to do so much we cant keep our Children in the house all the time and be watching then behind our backs every minute, we all have responsibilities.   Even though we teach our Children about being responsible they still do the opposite. That is and will always be the teenager mentality, and don’t forget we were all once too. 

    So please STOP saying that parents are not doing their jobs as a parent, for we do teach our Children morals for we were all raised with respected family values.   Dont blame the parents blame the system for if the system has failed us then whats left for the future of our Children?

     A police helicopter is a great start and we hope to continue to see more progress being done.  

  6. Anonymous says:

    Anything will work if you throw enough money at it, but this country cannot afford the $1.2M a year operational costs.  Baines is not a helicopter expert so how will he substantiate his statement?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again piling on unneeded expense with this Police helicopter. Sell this old, deilapidated and out of date helicopter and cut our losses!!

    The UDP must try not to make the same mistake the PPM did. This is not the type of aircraft needed for Cayman in the first place for many reasons and a fixed wing aircraft would be better and much more inexpensive to operate when we can afford it

    I think it would be a better idea for the government to lease a certain amount of hours from the present helicopter operator thereby reducing their costs for pilots, maintenance, CAA costs, hangerage, not to mention any unscheduled maintenance that may more than likely happen when using it for this type of operation.  Why not cap the cost and budget for it so that we know exactly what we are paying? It only takes one incident such as losing an engine to see our cost spiral out of control.

    Let’s not make the same mistake twice!



  8. Anonymous says:

    If the PPM government had not started to try to impose their extravagant wishes on Mr. Kernohan this whole helicopter situation would not have arisen and further crime may have been kept at bay.  The PPM wanted him to get a Mercedes Benz helicopter but gave him a Ford Escort budget.  All of a sudden they and their cronies were helicopter experts who really didn’t know their nose from their a….  This is something else to add to the long list of stupid moves by the PPM that left our country in the disaster it’s in.  Mr. Kernohan should receive an apology from our government as he and his family have gone through a lot.  I hope he wins his lawsuit as I believe he had the RCIPS’ and Cayman’s interests at heart.

    • Anonymous says:

      Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!! You wish Kernohan could win so we the people of Cayman have to fork out another butt-load of money?!?! At first it sounded like you were concerned about the well being of Cayman and its cauffers, now I see you’re just concerned with beating up on the PPM.  Too bad simple beating up on the PPM doesn’t solve any problems.

    • Anonymous says:

      Amen!  I been saying that all along from the start!  I agree wholeheartedly with every word!  Short, precise and well put together!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Good! But of course it will require more civil servants to fly it and maintain it. Don’t you see, Cayman, we can’t cut the civil service in the way everyone wants to save money, because everyone also wants extra services!!!!