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Sheriff’s helicopter to get $1.1 million refurbishment

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved $1.1 million for refurbishing a sheriff’s helicopter that has been grounded since October.

Board Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price said a new helicopter would cost $2.5 million.

“This helicopter has been grounded since October due to reliability issues,” Slater-Price said. The vote to spend the money was unanimous.

The upgrades will enable the helicopter to fly at higher altitudes, carry bigger payloads and perform better in extreme temperatures, such as firefighting, according to a report to the Board of Supervisors.

The conversion will enable the helicopter to fly for an additional 12,000 hours, or about 20 years.

The sheriff’s department operates eight helicopters through its Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies, or ASTREA, unit, according to the division’s Web site.