Cop chopper to go to US

| 17/02/2011

(CNS): As a result of opting to use an overseas maintenance contractor, the RCIPS will be without the police helicopter for more than a month soon, when the machine goes to the United States to be serviced, sources tell CNS. The RCIPS currently has a maintenance contract with Arrow Aviation LLC, based in Louisiana, the company which did the original work after the helicopter was purchased from the UK in 2007. A police spokesperson recently confirmed that the RCIPS had been unable to secure a maintenance contract through the central tendering process and was seeking to directly employ its own engineer instead, but so far one has not been recruited.

Although one expression of interest had been submitted to the RCIPS in response to the request for proposals for the maintenance contract, police said the cost was excessive and not value for money, leading to the decision to keep the contract with Arrow until the service could directly employ its own staff.

It is understood that the only bidder on the contract was locally based firm Cayman Helicopters, which has worked with the police since establishing its helicopter tour business back in 2003. An RCIPS spokesperson stated that subsequent negotiations after the tendering process did not realize a cost effective agreement, hence the decision by the RCIPS to employ their own engineers.

However, as the police have not yet recruited a maintenance team, CNS has learned the helicopter will now have to go overseas for several weeks. When asked what contingency plans were in place while the air support unit was in the US and how long the unit would be out of action, the police said they were not prepared to comment.

“The deployment of RCIPS resources and equipment is an operational matter and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment," a police spokesperson stated.

Although the helicopter has created considerably controversy over the four years since it was purchased, Police Commissioner David Baines has hailed the machine as an important resource in the fight against crime.

With the recent revelations by Baines that Cayman is becoming a transshipment point for cocaine, coupled with the number of firearms coming on to the island, law enforcement agencies are under greater pressure than ever to protect the integrity of Cayman’s borders, which means patrolling the waters around the islands. Police have also pointed out that, despite not having a winch, the helicopter is extremely effective at coordinating search and rescue in partnership with the Marine Unit.

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  1. Right ya so says:


    Come on people this is Cayman! Within 30 mins of a robbery/accident/stabbing we all know know about it – what makes you think the gangsta’s didn’t know the heli was leaving way before this article was online?!



  2. Anonymous says:

    Why not pay for the mechanic to come here?

    • Anonymous says:

      That would be using common sense.. not typically found in The Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      In addition to a competent pilot there is significant specialized diagnostic and repair equipment/infrastructure necessary (a socket set won’t suffice). Having said that would not Cayman Air, Island Air, or the private helicopter company have that? Of course thesource would need to be reliable.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t really matter who knows what about the helicopter. The people that might be caught already know when it takes off anyway. Not to mention you can hear it from miles away. It is something we cannot afford and really how useful has it been? Violent crime has only increased. Money would be better spent trying to make the already useless car coupon checking RCIPS better to fight crime. Oh and perhaps tell them that standing on street corners checking car coupons and using police cruisers to stop and shop at the supermarkets is just a little less important than fighting the more serious stuff.

  4. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    Re: "Police have also pointed out that, despite not having a winch…"  (Last sentence)

    A police helicopter came into the picture after Commissioner Kernoahan arrived in 2006, who was training to be a helicopter pilot.  The original recommendation to the RCIPS was to instead use a fixed-wing aircraft for air support.  The operative word here is “support”.

    Some of the pros of a fixed-wing aircraft are-
    1. much lower operational cost;
    2. could be operated by Caymanians;
    3. a greater number of Caymanian pilots to fly it;
    4. much lower maintenance cost;
    5. could be maintained by Caymanians;
    6. a greater number of Caymanians who can maintain it;
    7. same surveillance and communications equipment could be installed;
    8. it can stay in the air for longer periods than the helicopter;
    9. it can provide the same border surveillance and communications as the current police helicopter;
    10. makes much least noise than the helicopter;

    Why is this important?  Becauseborder control is a major problem and should be the main focus of the air support unit, “support” being the operative word.  However, it appears that the boats are being sacrificed to save the aging and excessively expensive police helicopter.

    Unlike the current police helicopter, good helicopters can be useful, but for the reasons mentioned above, where we can only afford one aircraft it should be a fixed-wing aircraft, and when we can afford a second aircraft, then maybe purchase a helicopter.

    A fixed-wing aircraft would more positively contribute to the strategic goal of crime reduction, because it would cost least to do the same job being do by the current police helicopter.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians can operate the helicopter, they can fly the helicopter, and they can apply for the maintenance position! To operate it, all they have to do is be in the RCIPS as police officer.  To fly it, they just need to have a helicopter licence, and to maintain it they need to have a maintenance licence.  Do you think any of the people working there were born to the position.  NO, like every other job in the world, they went off and qualified.  Us Caymanians can have any of these jobs if we go and put the effort and the hours in to qualify, simple.  It’s not exactlya teaching environment. 

      So there would be no workers cost saving anyway?  Also helicopter can work anywhere and anytime?  God forbid we have a hurricane again, cannot see the fixed wing benefiting us then. 

      Whilst I recognize you have some good points generally in your posts, I think your view is rather simplistic.  And a bit late in the debate

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        Re: “Us Caymanians can have any of these jobs if we go and put the effort and the hours in to qualify, simple.”  🙂 Not so simple, especially with the current Commissioner of police. 

        Also, my comments are not too late in the game.  If fact, of such was the original advice provided to the police regarding air support, long before the purchase of the helicopter. 

        With the amount of loose fragments which will be on the ground after a hurricane, I don’t think the helicopter will be landing in many places.  Since the helicopter also doesn’t have a winch, it makes this particular helicopter that much least useful.  A winch cannot be installed, and the police were also informed of that fact before they had purchased it.

      • Helo Pilot says:

        While its true that native Caymanians could fly the helicopter it would take more than just a class to get their license.  It would also take a few years of experiance to get the kind of hours that were required for the job.  I’ve been flying for 7 years and I don’t meet the night hours or multi-engine hours required.  If I had I would have applied in a heartbeat. 

        Night overwater operations are not something to just step into right out of flight school unless you want a wrecked aircraft and dead crew.

    • Anonymous says:

      While fixed wings are effective for certain broad range search they are not effective rescue tools. In addition the hovering ability is why many police departments utilize helicopters as they are effective for continuous monitoring of areas/perps by not requiring circle sweeps.
      I’m not asserting that this particular helicopter or overseas maintenance were the most effective solution.

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        Re: “…they [fixed-wing aircraft] are not effective rescue tools.”

        And neither is the current police helicopter, because it does not have a winch installed.  If fact, it is not possible for the police helicopter to be certified for a winch installation, and the RCIPS was aware of the fact before they purchased it.  The boats are best tools the RCIPS currently have for rescue, not the helicopter.

        Re: “…hovering ability…’

        If the current police helicopter had a winch, you would have a stronger argument, but it doesn’t and it cannot ever have one installed.  So, the RCIPS does not have a rescue helicopter or a fixed-wing aircraft, but instead something in between the two, for the price of a helicopter.  Waste of money!

        • Ellie Khopta says:

          I don’t think the hovering ability point had anything to do with winches but was rather a point about surveillance capabilities.

        • Anonymous says:

          Fact – fixed wing needs an open airport, helicopter doesn’t = very little night cover from fixed wing.

          It is more than a rescue (search) tool, this is part of it’s capability. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you for information regarding lack of winch in regard to rescue ability but please note that I qualified my comment regarding the current helicopter. It was really only in relation to general helicopter vs fixed wing…not this helicopter. I am not as qualified as you to comment on it’s specific abilities.
          And thank you 2/21 08:02 poster for additional strong support regarding night coverage and runway requirments.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The real question is if this massive investment has done any real good for our island yet. Surely a couple incidents have been helped by this machine but I would love to see an FOI on how many arrests wouldn’t have been made if we didn’t have the chopper.

    Let’s put this chopper into perspective.

    The purported cost of the helicopter was 1.3 mil and with all the upgrades, servicing, and issues surrounding it, lets just say 2mil. I’m guessing an average policeman’s salary is around 50k, which means we could have hired 10 new policeman for and paid for them for 4 years, which I’m certain would help our crime as well as employ 10 more people. This isn’t even taking into consideration the yearly costs of the chopper (which would be another great FOI).

  6. Anonymous says:

    LOL… PPM and their idea of a HELICOPTER!

  7. Anonymous says:

    How much is the police helicopter costing?

    What use has it been in fighting the escalating crime?

    Has anyone done a cost/benefit analysis?

    How many additional cops can be put on the beat for the cost of operating the helicopter?

    • Anonymous says:

      all good questions… that are never asked by the ‘professional journalists’ of the cayman islands

  8. Anonymous says:

    To hell with this, am bringing down Fantastic 4 & Superman. While I have them on the phone, I’ll order Silver Surfer, Hulk, Bat-Man, Spider-Man and # 1 from the BRAC!!  

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but what is the motive for publishing this story.  Even if the helicopter were still on the Island, it would have been out of service for this period of time as anyone who knows a little about aeroplanes know they require annual detailed maintenance checks.  Does it really matter where that maintenance is done, most operators go off Island.  It would be good is we had a spare in it’s place, not really practical.  The tour helicopter doesn’t have any police equipment from what I have seen. 

    But to publish this information is hardly in the public interest is it?  I think this story is irresponsible and hardly news. 

    • Tenacious says:

      The motive for publishing the story is that the people of Cayman are being robbed by bureaucrats who are being fed incorrect information as to the cost of running and maintaining a police helicopter that effectively does nothing to improve the safety of the people. What matters is $1.2 million a year could be put towards helping others more needy on the islands, such as the underprivileged children at Francis Bodden or Bonaventure Homes. What you do not seem to grasp is that the helicopter is underpowered (meaning no sea rescues or running over to the sister islands), over priced and operated by a group of men who have their own agenda.

      • Anonymous says:

        What a load of bull, I know the guys that work there, they are quite genuine (and experienced).  And it has been seen regularly in the sister islands, but the myth continues.

        Just checking back on the news stories, two fisherman owe their lives to this helicopter fifty miles away from Cayman Brac.  But it’s no good over the sea, another myth……….. time to move on.

  10. Common_Cayman_Crook says:

    Good to know. As soon as this bird heads off the island for maintenance, it’s crime spree time!


    • Anonymous says:

      why? did the crime spree stop when the helicopter arrived?

    • Anonymous says:

      "it’s crime spree time"

      It already is.    So far the helicopter has not been instrumental in solving any serious crime



  11. Anonymous says:

    I don’t really think that this kind of information should be pospted. I know the press and the people should be kept informed. But this infomation can make criminals plan around this time. God knows what next

  12. Anonymous says:


    Got to love this 🙂 Now you can’t blame Mr. Baines for this one, but you can blame the PPM for this extra expense, they are the ones that brought it.
    I am unclear as to why the RCIP would not be allow to hire someone from overseas to work for them as maintenance crew, during this time we could send someone for training. OH, how does Cayman Helicopters company do maintenance on their chopper, surely they have someone that works on it, why not use them and or allow them both hire someone and split the costs?
    Just my thoughts on this matter.
    • Anonymous says:

      No Time to blame anyone………………IT WAS NEEDED A LONG TIME AGO!!!

      UDP would’ve probably bought one anyhow!!

      We just dont need to know when its going to be out of commission!!!!

      Got more serious stuff on our plates like CRIME, no time to point fingers!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not just training but a whole bunch of specialised equipment, the sort of stuff that doesn’t come from your local Snap On dealer and costs mega bucks – for just one machine it ain’t worth the investment.

      The only way round this would be if you could attract business from other Caribbean countries and set up as a maintenance hub.

    • Anonymous says:

      As far as I know Cayman Islands Helicopters has a mechanic on island who is qualified to work on the police chopper.  I think it’s time for an FOI for how much the police are paying for their guys to fly in every few weeks to do maintenance, stay in a hotel, and be paid for doing their job as well as the inconvenience of sending the machine off for whatever reason versus the cost they were quoted by the local company.  I can’t fathom that it costs them less to pay for flights, hotels, food, plus wages and temporary permits at least once or twice a month than it does for the same service to be provided on island.  Just saying.

      • Caymanian/Expat family- all one says:

         This should be part of their private police operations…knowing the maintenance schedule is irresponsible.  Should we send a telegram, flowers, and candy to the S.American drug lords now too?!?

        I hope the police has a 30 day roster of extra BOATS to combat the drug drops when the helicopter is off island.

        Come on, we do not have thousands of miles of shoreline, but the patrols need to be keep secret as well as the maintenance schedule!

        Bad reporting CNS…this story will not help anyone.


    • Anonymous says:

      completely different Helicopters. They’re like apples and oranges

  13. Pro Caymanian says:


    The Drug Dealers should be glad to know this information!!!

    1 step forward, 3 steps BACKWARDS!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      T he Chopper has certainly been an asset to the Force, and I would suggest that regardless what Government has to cut back on that they should in the mean time lease one.The Criminals will only take advantage of the next month.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Not sure this the whole story.

    In suspect this move is for a major check but routine maintenance of the helicopter is being conducted at its base on Owen Roberts Airport.

    I think you will find that an engineer was recruited back in 2008 to handle day-to-day running of the machine and it is only the major checks that had to be conducted off-island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Which I think you will find is the same case for Cayman Airways planes when they need there major checks…

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Very interesting. For those who remember Francoise who did the spraying in the 70/80s for Marco Giglioli he insisted on doing his own maintenance on both the planes and the helicopters that he flew. Wise man.

      • Anonymous says:

        Francois was exceptional.  He converted and learned to fly the helicopter so that CIG could acquire it – they could not then afford a helicopter and a helicopter pilot (in addition to the plane and fixed wing pilot).  In addition to Francois’ CONTRIBUTION to MRCU/CIG by doubling as pilot to both aircraft, he was also an aircraft engineer.  Again, he contributed to MRCU/CIG by acquiring the ratings for the helicopter so he could work on that too.

        Back then one of the hallmarks of Cayman was that for the most part people contributed.  Recently they took, now its just rob what you can. 

  15. Anonymous says:

    And why on earth are we revealing this information?

  16. MER says:

    If we have a local business capable of maintaining this craft, it should be utilized, that problem (or one of the problems) with this island is continuous outsourcing of products and services! Keep the money circulating within the island, even if it does cost a few bucks more! And I do not see how transporting the helicopter overseas everytime it needs servicing is more economical that having it on-island!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I think that the helicopter should be maintained in Cayman. Train someone to do the job. What are we waiting for?

    • Anonymous says:

      Certtified helicopter mechanics don’t grow on trees and are very expensive. It will take you a few years to “train someone up” in another country at great expense. It makes no sense for Cayman to have the facilities for major maintenance when they exist elsewhere. Even if you did have such facilities, the helicopter would still be out of action during maintenance. Use your head.

      • Tenacious says:

        There exists a fully trained mechanic on island who has been here for several years and who was originally brought to the island by the police force. He is an ex-British army maintainer and is more than capable of looking after the police helicopter for a fraction of the price that it takes to send the machine away. The required maintenance takes one man who knows what he is doing,no major facility necessary. To bring a US trained mechanic to the island each month at the cost of several thousands of dollars is a nonsense. It’s called politics and the men at the top are being kept out of the loop. 

  18. Anonymous says:

    since day one, everything to do with this helicopter has smacked of incompetence by cig and the civil service….

  19. Anonymous says:

    haha only in cayman…. more alice in wonderland stuff…..

    just goes to show the cayman is over priced in absolutely everything….

    and people wonder why people don’t shop locally! can’t wait for my next miami shopping trip (perhaps i can go in the chopper??)