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Like Beirut

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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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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Comments
5

They could save a lot of fuel by no longer circling over the Rolando area on a daily basis, often multiple times per day. It's not just University Heights & Normal heights. The noise shatters otherwise quiet afternoons/evenings. There is never an apparent reason for the overflights, no sirens, nothing reported in the news or on the Crime Mapping application. Occasionally they make announcements from the chopper but it's impossible to understand the message due to the prop noise. I tell my wife that they are either looking for a lost child or a serial killer not sure which!

Nov. 8, 2012

Dennis, It's funny because we lived in University Heights before moving to Talmadge and you're right, they are definitely here as well. I was only aware of the complaints from those in University and Normal Heights. Thanks for the comment.

Nov. 8, 2012

I lived in City Heights and it was like living in Beirut, had police choppers overhead everynight.....we also had more than a few high speed pursuits..........

Nov. 8, 2012

This whole issue of misuse of those ultra-expensive choppers has gone on for years. Here in No County we have them show up and circle for 15 to 20 minutes over a freeway accident. Say what? Yes, they hover or circle above freeway crashes. Any need for that? Not that I can identify, and the reports in the media never offer a reason. The reason is that the flight crew is on duty, and they head to the nearest "event", even if it needs no aerial surveillance at all.

Nov. 8, 2012

Hey, these guys are very busy flying around looking for/at homeless people; you know, public enemy #1.

Dec. 3, 2012

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