Watchdog: NC should sell state aircraft

(Wikimedia Commons)

April 29, 2010 3:41:01 PM PDT
A North Carolina watchdog agency recommended Thursday that the state get rid of about a third of its aircraft.

The Program Evaluation Division said North Carolina could save millions by selling the aircraft and eliminating five storage hangars.

Click here to read the report

In Fiscal Year 2008-09, eight state programs employed 89 full-time staff to operate 72 aircraft located at 23 locations across the state at a cost of $10.8 million.

The division report says 79 percent of the planes and helicopters were flown less than 200 hours per year. 200 hours is an industry threshold often used to determine if they're worth keeping.

The report says the state could save $8 million upfront and $1.5 million annually by selling 25 aircraft.

A General Assembly panel approved the recommendations at a meeting in Raleigh.

But Rep. David Lewis said he's worried eliminating planes could threaten the state's ability to fight forest fires. State Bureau of Investigation Director Robin Pendergraft said her agency's planes are needed to assist with crime fighting and to transport suspects.

The report also said the General Assembly should establish an aviation management authority in the Department of Transportation that would oversee management of all aircraft owned or operated by the state.

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