Eagle Copters supports San Diego Sheriff’s Aviation Unit on rescue missions

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is a law enforcement agency that has an aviation unit providing aerial support commonly known as ASTREA, or Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies.

The relationship between Eagle Copters and ASTREA started around 2003, when the Cedar Fire in San Diego burned more than 273,000 acres. Soon after this unfortunate event the first two of San Diego’s Bell 205 fire-rescue helicopters were ordered. The unit took delivery of the two machines in 2005, and its most senior pilots began training to fly hoist rescue and initial attack fire missions.

Members of the ASTREA and Eagle Copters teams stand in front of the unit’s new Bell 205 helicopter following its delivery. Luba Jovicic Photo
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“I have been involved with Eagle Copters and their Bell 205s since the inception of ASTREA’s Fire Rescue program in 2005,” said Tony Weber, senior fire/rescue pilot. “I have flown all three of our Bell 205s built by Eagle and have found them all to be top notch equipment that has covered our mission for 15 years. We have flown these helicopters in some of the worse fire conditions imaginable and they have always completed the mission.”

Eagle Copters and ASTREA’s most recent work scope has been focused on their three Bell 205s. The original two machines received full “tip to tail” refurbishments identifying and addressing fatigued zones which could lead to unplanned AOG situations in the field.

“We are very proud to offer our 24/7 support to ASTREA,” said Wes Semeniuk, customer support manager. “The critical role they play in various life saving missions requires lightening quick response time. In addition to their highly skilled maintenance team, we strive to do everything we can to help ensure they experience little to no down time.”

These completions included avionics packages and NVIS modifications, as well as ASTREA’s Bell 407 project completion.

“We have been working closely with ASTREA to recommend mission-specific avionics packages to suit their requirements,” said Luba Jovicic, customer support – avionics lead. “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the team.”

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Ozark Aeroworks, Eagle’s engine partner in the USA (Springfield, Mo.) has played a big part in supporting ASTREA’s operations throughout the years. Ozark Aeroworks is a T53 engine maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility with extensive knowledge and in-house capabilities. They are extremely customer focused directly resulting in industry leading quality, price, and fast turn around times.

ASTREA was established in 1971 by the late sheriff John Duffy. The unit started operating three Bell 47 helicopters purchased with a federal grant. Over the past 48 years, ASTREA has evolved into professional airborne law enforcement and fire rescue unit, highly respected throughout the country.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Unit – ASTREA, operates a fleet of nine helicopters. Of the nine helicopters, four are MD 500 series helicopters and two are Bell 407 helicopters, which are primarily dedicated to law enforcement support. Three helicopters (Bell 205 A1++) are primarily dedicated to fire suppression/search and rescue operations.

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