The oldest Uganda Police helicopter is set to fly again after being grounded for more than 15 years.
The police air wing has completed refurbishing the seven seater Bell 206B American helicopter, which was grounded in 2002. The helicopter was purchased in 1986 shortly after President Museveni took power.
The former Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura tried to sell off the helicopter in 2013 as scrap but was advised to refurbish it.
The aircraft was refurbished by Yamasec Ltd. Deputy IGP Sabiiti Muzeyi witnessed the handover of the refurbished chopper at the police air wing base in Kajjansi on Thursday.
Captain Baraka Orland, the chief executive officer Yamasec, says it took them two years to refurbish the helicopter, adding that the repairs were done at Kajjansi airstrip using local engineers.
“Now this aircraft doesn’t have to be sent to a museum but can add on the resources of the police force,” Captain Baraka said.
Sabiiti, who part of the team that flew in the helicopter as it was being tested, said “there are many things that can be added on the helicopter like cameras and search lights to make it serve the policing role appropriately”.
Initially, the helicopter engine failed to start due to a malfunction but was later fixed and off into the skies it went.
Although police didn’t disclose what it cost them to repair the helicopter, a reliable source put the figure at Shs 10 billion. The repair of the helicopter brings to four the number of helicopters belonging to the police force. Two helicopters were purchased in 2015.
Police is in the process of procuring two more helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft, which will bring the total number of helicopters to six. The police air wing, which is now located at Kajjansi was established in 1958 with 14 helicopters and fixed air wings.