By Jason Allen

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth unveiled a new bigger, faster and high-tech police helicopter Friday that will replace an aircraft almost three decades old.

The nearly $4.5 million Bell 505 should be flying above the city in about a month. It will give police three helicopters for a short time, until a 1993 Bell Jet Ranger is too expensive to maintain.

The new aircraft can carry up to five people, for a flight time of three to four hours. It’s faster and has improved video technology, broadcasting images back down to police on the ground.

The city approved the purchase in January 2020, using crime control and prevention district funding. That was before the fund received additional scrutiny later in the year, for being used for equipment purchases, and was refocused toward more community-based policing efforts.

Chief Ed Kraus said Friday the helicopter fleet enhances public safety for the community, during search and rescue calls for missing persons, and by relaying details to officers on the ground during incident that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Kraus, who is retiring later this year, said the department will have to look at different funding opportunities for the next helicopter purchase, which is expected within the next few years to replace a model from 2006.

The purchase extends a 70-year relationship between the city and Bell. One of the city’s largest companies, Mayor Betsy Price said Friday city leaders knew their next aircraft had to come from Bell.

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