Don Bauder 3:30 p.m., Jan. 21
Soaring fuel prices for police and fire department helicopters. City to spend $5.48 million over 5 years.
On Tuesday, city councilmembers will consider entering into a contract with Crownair Aviation to provide fuel for the City of San Diego's four police helicopters and two fire helicopters.
If approved the City will pay at least $5.48 million to Crownair Aviation over the course of five years to fuel the six helicopters. The prices are based on an estimated 5 percent increase in the price per gallon of fuel but that amount can fluctuate depending on actual fuel prices.
The Kearny Mesa-based company has run into some problems in recent months. In July of this year, Crownair Aviation was one of 50 aviation fuel retailers accused of selling lead-based fuel, also known as avgas, without proper public notification. The legal complaint was filed in Alameda County by the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland.
It is said that lead-based fuel for used in aviation is the largest contributor to lead emissions, according to a press release from the Environmental Center for Health.
The new contract with Crownair Aviation comes after years of cuts to the police department's Airborne Law Enforcement Unit. In 2011, the police department reduced the hours of flying time by four hours, to six hours a day.
That reduction was good news for some residents living in University Heights and Normal Heights who have complained about the noise from police helicopters. Typically, the helicopters hover over mid-City communities in order to stay out of the flight path for Lindbergh Field and away from traffic helicopters.
The city council will discuss the item at a 2pm hearing on Tuesday.
The police department and Crownair Aviation did not respond to a request for comment.
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