Report Suggests Eliminating High-End NC Helicopter

The Legislature's fiscal watchdog agency says there's still room to pare down the dozens of aircraft in North Carolina's fleet, including a high-end helicopter often used to ferry company executives looking to build in the state.

The Program Evaluation Division released a report Wednesday that recommends the Department of Transportation eliminate a seven-seat Sikorsky helicopter that flew just 66 hours during 2011, for an average cost of $8,500 per hour. The Department of Commerce used the helicopter about half the time for things like business recruitment.

The report authors said the helicopter could be sold and a less expensive aircraft purchased that could be shared with the Highway Patrol and used by the Department of Commerce, too.

The state's aviation fleet has declined by more than 25 percent since 2009.

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