The helicopter New York's governor uses for transportation is up to the discretion of the New York State Police Dept. Currently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo rides in a Bell Helicopter 430 — state police has six in its fleet. Now the department is currently trying to field a Sikorsky S-76D for the governor's transport among other uses; it does not currently operate any Sikorskys.
After an earlier crash-landing of a department Bell 407, the slightly used S-76D has been negotiated for $12.5 million — 24% less than the original asking price — and includes pilot training. Sources say that the New York State police hasn’t operated a Sikorsky aircraft in roughly a decade, when it was used primarily for transport missions. But, the department has a variety of operational plans for its S-76D, including emergency and law enforcement missions. Despite operating costs for Sikorsky aircraft being higher than those for Bell's, the S-76D is bigger, faster and has more endurance than the Bell 407 it’s replacing.
In August 2012, a Bell 407 belonging to the department made a nonfatal crash-landing in western New York. With the force trim in the "off" position in single-pilot configuration, a momentary release of the cyclic resulted in upward pitch and right yaw, according to an NTSB report. That report concluded that the manufacturer should have been aware, and should have made pilots aware, of that characteristic. That same scenario in dual-pilot configuration did not yield the same results. Pilot counteractions to the pitch and yaw resulted in the 2012 crash-landing.
The New York State police currently operates four Bell 407s, three Bell Huey 2s and six airplanes, along with its six Bell 430s. The New York State Police Aviation unit has four stations with headquarters in Albany. All are staffed to provide law enforcement support, search and rescue, and MEDEVAC services. Two stations also provide firefighting support and support to the Dept. of Environmental Conservation.
Funding for the S-76D will come from the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget. The department has not purchased a helicopter since 2002. Reports say the purchase agreement has not been finalized, as it is awaiting approval from the state.
Photo courtesy of Sikorsky