American Eurocopter has delivered two AS350 B3 helicopters to the Texas Department of Public Safety's Aircraft Section. These are the first AS350 B3's in the Aircraft Section's all-Eurocopter fleet, which includes 13 Eurocopter AS350-series AStar helicopters and one EC145, according to the company.

"The selection of the AS350 B3 highlights Texas DPS's confidence in American Eurocopter and the AStar family," according to Ed Van Winkle, American Eurocopter's law enforcement market manager. "The AS350 B3s will provide the Aircraft Section with increased capabilities in order to better-serve the citizens of Texas and we are honored that they continue to choose our helicopters as they update and augment their fleet."

In addition to law enforcement and patrol missions, the mission scope of Texas DPS now includes search and rescue, tactical operations and homeland security missions throughout the state. The AS350 B3 copters will give Texas DPS additional payload, range and endurance to enhance their capacity to respond to these vital missions.

"The role of helicopters in support of modern law enforcement is evolving," according to Bill Nabors, chief pilot with Texas DPS. "In serving the citizens of Texas, the scope of our missions is changing and we needed to select helicopters that will help us meet current and future mission requirements. The AS350 B3s will enable us to adapt to the variety of missions and changing environments across the state."

Because of the geographic diversity within the state, Texas DPS will benefit from the added power and performance provided by 847 shp Turbomeca Arriel 2B1 engines with dual-channel FADEC and dual hydraulics. With these, Texas DPS flight crews will be able to perform additional missions at higher altitudes on hotter days.

The mission equipment includes a thermal imager, searchlight and moving map system. Texas DPS added the capability of a 500-pound rescue hoist, which will aid in search and rescue operations.