The agency’s first aircraft, the helicopter’s primary mission is to seek out and eliminate cannabis cultivation on public land and assist in the cleaning up the destruction caused by the illegal activity. The aircraft will also support the department’s additional fish and wildlife missions including search and rescue, surveys, and general law enforcement.
“Illegal marijuana grow operations far outnumber licensed operations, and with them comes water theft and the poisoning of our fragile forest ecosystems with pesticides and other illegal chemicals,” explains Gavin Woelfel, senior warden pilot for California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We chose the MD 530F for its powerful performance from sea level to altitude, allowing us to safely and effectively patrol all of California’s diverse topography in search of these illegal and destructive operations and better protect our natural resources.”
The MD 530F provides the department with a new tool in the fight against these illegal operations that threaten already drought ridden lands and stressed vegetation. As the department’s first helicopter, the aircraft allows officers to search wider areas more efficiently and from the air, the hardest direction for illegal growers to hide their operations from.
MD 530F Aircraft Configuration
MD Helicopters’ certified glass-cockpit is the focal point of the aircraft’s advanced night vison goggle interior designed to enhance safety during nighttime patrol, surveillance, and tactical operations. It features the Garmin G500 TXi Electronic Flight Instruments (EFIS), Howell Instruments Electronic Engine Instruments and Crew Alert Systems (EICAS), and Garmin GTN 750Xi Touchscreen NAV/COM/GPS.
The 530F’s powerful Rolls-Royce 250-C30 650 shp turbine engine allows for additional mission equipment to increase the aircraft’s capability. The configuration also includes an extended range fuel tank, left and right side fast rope rappelling systems, integrated cargo hook for sling loads and human loads, special operations benches, and Raptor Long Gun System rifle racks and wire strike protection system. The NVG compatible cockpit comes with Garmin’s GTR 225B NVG, and Canyon Aeroconnect Flexcomm™ RT-7000 Airborne Tactical Radio to ensure seamless broadband civil and government communications.
Other equipment includes:
- Shadin fuel flow transducer is integrated to the GTN 750Xi via remote flow provides the pilot real time fuel burn rates as well as situational awareness via range rings.
- Mid-Continent MD-23 Flex gauge has been programed to read engine torque remotely via ARIC 429 directly from the aircraft Data Acquisition Unit (DAU).
- High-contrast main rotor blades
- AEM LSC22 Siren/PA controller with 300W speaker system
- Flightcell DZMx DZUS with satellite and 3G cellular capability
- Canyon Aeroconnect Digital Audio Control System
- Door post mounted MDHI remote engine torque gauge
- Door post mounted Onboard load weight indicator