ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque company is donating a plane to the New Mexico State Police at a time when the state has been shrinking its aerial fleet.
Police officials said they’ll use the utility plane for a range of missions, including narcotics interdiction and search and rescue, the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/WVvEuA ) reported.
Pete Dunn of CSI Aviation said the Australian-designed Seeker aircraft that his company is donating will perform some of the same missions as a helicopter now used by State Police but at less cost.
The donated two-seat plane has a cockpit like those of some helicopters and has a pusher-type engine in the back of the fuselage.
“We’re hoping it increases our capabilities but also reduces our operating costs,” said Deputy Chief Steve Kassetas.
“It is not a luxury plane we’re going to be sending bigwigs across the state in.”
Kassetas said the police agency plans to phase out a Cessna turboprop airplane that it now has.
The state government’s fleet shrank to three aircraft last summer.
The sale of a twin-engine turboprop plane to a Santa Fe man for $575,000 left the state with the two State Police aircraft plus a 2006 Beechcraft King Air that can be used by government officials and the Children’s Medical Services program.
When Gov. Susana Martinez took office in 2011, the state had eight aircraft, including a jet that was sold in 2011 for $2.5 million.
The Seeker is marketed by Albuquerque-based Seeker Aircraft America as a rugged aircraft suitable for private, commercial and security operations such as inspecting pipelines, watching coastal areas and taking aerial photos
Dunn said his company purchased two Seekers as demonstration planes for the aerial surveillance market in North America but found that one was adequate for its purposes.
The donated Seeker is fully depreciated, so the company won’t get a tax deduction from the donation, he said.