Friday, April 24, 2009

President Still Can't Get Decent Ride By Air

It seemed friendly skies for Chile's president when the air force bought a used Boeing 767 for her use last year. But now the 767 is having problems reminiscent of the old, faulty 707 that it replaced. An oil leak forced the 767-300ER to land in the Central African Republic, well short of its Moscow destination. The air force is having to buy a new engine, at a cost of $4 million. Turns out the 767 had a spotty maintenance record before Chile acquired it, according to El Mercurio. Other details raise questions about the plane's reliability. For example, it hardly flew between August 2007 and July 2008. In 2006, it was leased to an airline in Nigeria, which is notorious for its poor aviation safety. El Mercurio's sources say an offer from Airbus for two used A310 aircraft, for about the same as the $58 million 767, might have been better. That deal included a three-year warranty. But the air force canceled the purchase, citing a lack of adequate planes, which are to be used by the president and for the air force's airlift missions.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Police Get High-Tech Surveillance Aircraft

A Beechcraft King Air B200G with thermal-imaging and other observation equipment is now operating with Chile's national police force, the Carabineros. The twin-engine turboprop can send digital images to a ground station in real time using the Wescam Wisard system from L3 Communications. The King Air will be stationed in Iquique, from where it will scan the Atacama Desert for drug traffickers and illegal immigrants. The $7 million aircraft is similar to surveillance planes purchased by Iraq last year. Meanwhile, Carabineros also took delivery of the first two of four Augusta A-109 helicopters.