State Supports Slashing Aircraft Fleet

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The state General Assembly of North Carolina has supported a report that recommends it sell 25 of 72 aircraft, plus five hangars, operated by state aviation programs, to save millions of dollars. The sale of the aircraft, according to the report, would yield up to $8.1 million and save the state $1.5 million in operations, annually. The North Carolina General Assembly initiated the study to determine the number, use, and effectiveness of state aircraft as well as their associated operational efficiencies. It found that "aircraft are risky and expensive to own, operate, and maintain" and that half of the state's aircraft were flown less than 100 hours per year. The study's recommendations, which include cutting more than a third of its fleet, were approved in a meeting of the state's General Assembly, but not without dissent.

Among the activities of the state's aircraft are crime fighting and fire fighting. Representative David Lewis expressed concern that the elimination of aircraft could impair the state's ability to defend itself against forest fires. And the State's Bureau of Investigation said it needed planes for crime-fighting activities and to transport suspects. North Carolina employs 89 full-time staff to operate its aircraft at a cost of $10.8 million in Fiscal Year 2008-2009. Nearly 80 percent of those aircraft flew fewer than 200 hours per year and 36 flew less than 100 hours while eight could not or did not fly at all during the period. The report recommends that the General Assembly establish an authority to oversee management of all state aircraft. Find the report online, here (PDF).