Gwinnett County MD 500E is the first of two aviation unit helicopters to get a make-over through the MDHI-exclusive, FAA-approved factory-recertification program
MD Helicopters, Inc. (MDHI) announced today the delivery of a newly certified, zero-time MD 530F helicopter to the Gwinnett County Police Department. Previously operated as an MD 500E, this aircraft has completed a 12-week transformation to emerge as a newly certified, factory-guaranteed, FAA-certified F-model (369FF).
In March of this year, the Gwinnett County Police announced their plan to rejuvenate their aging helicopter fleet through MDHI’s exclusive E-to-F Conversion Program, instead of buying new. The decision to convert two MD 500Es, in service since the mid-1980s, will affordably modernize the Aviation Unit while maintaining the safety and proven performance the Gwinnett County Police Department has come to rely on.
Lou Gregoire, Gwinnett County Police Aviation Manager, commented, “Our search for a viable option to the prohibitive cost of total aircraft replacement ended when we learned about MD’s 500 to 530 conversion program. Once our command staff heard about the program, and the comparative cost saving over purchasing new aircraft, we received our marching orders to actively pursue a numbers nail-down, and everyone knows how much we cops love to pursue stuff!”
“Working with the MD team to find the best solution for our Unit was a great experience. In the end, the decision to extend the life of our current aircraft well into the future by tearing down and re-building our aging aircraft to transform them from 30-year-old 500E’s, to good as new 530F’s, was an easy one,” Gregoire concluded. “And the cost saving has allowed us to upgrade our avionics and buy new FLIR Star Safire cameras, emerging with two reliable, more capable, better performing aircraft for less than we would have spent on one brand new one.”
The first of Gwinnett’s two MD 500Es arrived at MD Helicopters’ Mesa, Arizona headquarters on July 1, 2015. The helicopters were planned to be upgraded one at a time in order to keep an aircraft in service.
Now complete, the aircraft will leave Mesa and fly to Rotor Resources LLC in Hiram, Georgia, before returning to service in October. Rotor Resources, an authorized MD Helicopters Service Center, will provide installation of an upgraded mission equipment package that includes the FLIR STAR SAFIRE 380HDc thermal infrared imaging system and SX-5 Starburst spotlight.
“Our award-winning MD 500 series aircraft are arguably the safest, most reliable rotorcraft solutions on the market that meet the full range of law enforcement mission requirements,” said Nick Nenadovic, Vice President of Aftermarket and Customer Support for MD Helicopters, Inc., “With nearly 15,000 flight hours logged, the Gwinnett County aircraft are certainly a testament to that. The opportunity to breathe new life into these proven performers – through this Conversion program and with the support of our Service Center network – and return them to service as essentially new aircraft with enhanced operational capabilities and a more robust mission equipment package is our absolute honor.”
Gwinnett’s second MD 500E will return to service with its new, FAA-approved 369FF type cert in December.
PHOTOS: To access and download images of both the old and new Gwinnet County Police helicopters, click here.