The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has taken delivery of its first helicopter, an MD 530F from MD Helicopters. Its primary mission is to seek out and eliminate cannabis cultivation on public land and to assist in the cleaning up of the destruction caused by the illegal activity. The helicopter will also support the department's additional fish and wildlife missions such as search and rescue, surveys and general law enforcement.
“Illegal marijuana growing operations far outnumber licensed operations, and with them comes water theft and the poisoning of our fragile forest ecosystems with pesticides and other illegal chemicals,” explains senior warden pilot Gavin Woelfel. “We chose the MD 530F for its powerful performance from sea level to altitude, allowing us to safely and effectively patrol all of California's diverse topography in search of these illegal and destructive operations and better protect our natural resources.”
Illegal operations threaten already drought ridden lands and stressed vegetation. As the department's first helicopter, this ‘new tool’ allows officers to search wider areas more efficiently and from the air, the hardest direction for illegal growers to hide their operations.
The certified glass cockpit is the focal point of the aircraft's advanced night vision goggle interior, designed to enhance safety during night time patrol, surveillance and tactical operations. It features the Garmin G500 TXi EFIS, Howell Instruments Electronic Engine Instruments and Crew Alert Systems, and Garmin GTN 750Xi Touchscreen NAV/COM/GPS. The Rolls-Royce 250-C30 650 shp turbine engine allows for additional mission equipment to increase capability. The configuration also includes an extended range fuel tank, left and right side fast rope rappelling systems, integrated cargo hook for sling loads and human loads, special operations benches, and Raptor Long Gun System rifle racks and wire strike protection system. The NVG compatible cockpit comes with Garmin's GTR 225B NVG and Canyon Aeroconnect Flexcomm RT-7000 Airborne Tactical Radio, to ensure seamless broadband civil and government communications.
Other equipment includes a Shadin fuel flow transducer, integrated to the GTN 750Xi via remote flow, that provides the pilot with real time fuel burn rates as well as situational awareness via range rings. The Mid-Continent MD-23 Flex gauge has been programmed to read engine torque remotely via ARIC 429 directly from the aircraft Data Acquisition Unit. There are high-contrast main rotor blades; an AEM LSC22 Siren/PA controller with 300W speaker system; Flightcell DZMx DZUS with satellite and 3G cellular capability; a Canyon Aeroconnect Digital Audio Control System; door post mounted MDHI remote engine torque gauge and door post mounted onboard load weight indicator.