The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has received delivery of a new MD 530F helicopter on 8 November, from manufacturer MD Helicopters, Inc.
The helicopter, which is the agency’s first aircraft, will primarily be used to seek out and eliminate illegal cannabis cultivation on public land, as well as assist in the clean-up of destruction caused by the illegal activity. The aircraft will also be used to support other missions including search and rescue, surveying and general law enforcement.
The 530F is equipped with a Rolls-Royce 250-C20 650 shp turbine engine, and the configuration also includes an extended range fuel tank, left and right-side fast rope rappelling systems, an integrated cargo hook for sling and human loads, special operations benches, Raptor Long Gun System rifle racks and a wire strike protection system.
Avionics enable enhanced communication for pilots
The helicopter’s NVG-compatible cockpit also comes with both a Garmin’s GTR 225B communications radio and a Canyon Aeroconnect Flexcomm RT-7000 Airborne Tactical Radio. The cockpit also features a Garmin G500 TXi electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), a Howell Instruments EICAS and a Garmin GTN 750Xi touchscreen flight navigator.
Other equipment includes:
- Shadin fuel flow transducer, which is integrated to the GTN 750Xi via remote flow to provide real-time fuel burn rates and increased situational awareness
- Mid-Continent MD23 Flex gauge capable of reading engine torque remotely via an ARIC 429 directly from the aircraft’s Data Acquisition Unit (DAU)
- An AEM LSC22 Siren/PA controller with 300W speaker system
- Flightcell DZMx with satellite and 3G cellular capability
- Canyon Aeroconnect Digital Audio Control System (DACS)
- Door post mounted MDHI remote engine torque gauge and onboard load weight indicator
- High contrast main rotor blades.
“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 Gavin Woelfel, senior warden pilot for the CDFW. “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.”