Friday, February 08, 2013

Aviation Firm Donates Small Plane to State Police

The New Mexico State Police’s small air wing is getting a special mission addition, courtesy of an Albuquerque-based aviation management company.

CSI Aviation is donating an SB7L-360A “Seeker,” a surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft valued at $250,000, that it no longer needs for its own business.

“The Seeker is too valuable of a resource to let it remain underutilized,” Tommy Dunn, CSI vice president for marketing and business development, said in a release about the donation. “The culture of this company is to give back to the community and we saw this as an excellent opportunity to do something for public safety in New Mexico.”

State Police Deputy Chief Pete Kassetas said the two-seat Seeker will have multiple uses, including intelligence gathering, surveillance, airborne patrol, search and rescue and narcotics interdiction.

“We’re hoping it increases our capabilities but also reduces our operating costs,” he said. “… It is not a luxury plane we’re going to be sending bigwigs across the state in.”

The Australian-designed aircraft has a high, fixed wing with a rear-mounted “pusher” engine and helicopter-like cockpit.

The Agusta helicopter the State Police has now is “used for surveillance and reconnaissance and everything else,” Dunn told the Journal. “They can do the same thing with this aircraft, except for a fraction of the cost.”

The State Police also has a Cessna 409 Golden Eagle turboprop but Kassetas said the plan is to phase it out. State Police was one of several police agencies that responded to a CSI-issued RFP in November offering the Seeker.

In business for 34 years, CSI provides a range of aviation services to corporations and government agencies, including air charters, aircraft leasing and aircraft purchases.

Dunn said CSI purchased two Seekers as demonstration planes for the aerial surveillance market in North America, but found that one was adequate for its purposes.

Commercial applications include things such as traffic reporting and aerial photography. “It’s a surveillance platform, so we’re going to market it and try to get it out there on the business side,” Dunn said. “Obviously, the meat and potatoes for this aircraft is cost savings.”

He said the donated Seeker is fully depreciated, which prevents the company from taking any type of tax deduction.


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