Border Patrol flies 7-person helicopters with 1-2 people on board

Customs and Border Patrol brought one of their Airbus H125 (formerly known as a “Eurocopter” and/or “AStar”) to Oshkosh this year. The $2,000+/hour machine holds up to 7 people. Plainly the mission could not be done with a $450/hour Robinson R44, right? The Robby seats only 4.

How many people are in the AStar at any one time? Either 1 (the pilot, also acting as observer) or 2 (pilot plus observer in the front left seat). The four back seats are empty nearly all the time.

Does the AStar actually perform better? The pilots said that the A/C in the machine was nowhere near powerful enough to keep up with the sun and greenhouse effect, so it is unclear why an R44 Raven II with A/C wouldn’t be at least as good. Or, if they’re determined to burn Jet A, an R66.


15 thoughts on “Border Patrol flies 7-person helicopters with 1-2 people on board

  1. Would a remotely controlled drone with a camera work? I am not clear why we need to go to the expense and danger of operating an aircraft for this mission, but perhaps I misunderstand it.

  2. Since none of the Democrat candidates for President think patrolling our borders is really necessary, the cost comparisons are moot: we could just stop flying helicopters entirely, and I expect that’s what we’ll do. At least until then the Border Patrol can fly the expensive ones it has, and then sell them on the civilian market afterward.

    On the other hand, a minimum level of some sort of security will probably still hang around in the future, so people selling Robinsons should get in on that action now, because they might be able to sell a handful of them.

    It would be kind of interesting and super controversial if a handful of wealthy Texans got together and decided to buy a bunch of Robinsons to do their own flying and patrolling, i.e., to inform the Border Patrol about where they needed to go, what to look for, etc., whilst showing them definitively that it could cost less. I don’t know whether anyone there could stomach that kind of risk exposure.

  3. Probably need extra room in case they have to rescue some of the huddled, tired weary masses from their foreign hell hole.

    • There is nothing worse than seeking asylum and being tortured by being forced to ride in a piston-powered aircraft.

    • @10-15,

      Mocking the poor?! Hardly.

      There are poor people all over the world, including in the USA in a far worse situation then migrants from the south. Why not fly them over to the Mexican border and let them cross over into the USA for asylum? What’s their fault for not getting equal treatment?

      If that’s not enough, we have US citizens who are war veterans, served on the front line, they and their families need help but yet they are either put on a waiting list, given poor treatments or rejected treatments because they are following our laws. Here is one data point just about veterans poverty level [1].


  4. Seems that the Border Patrol is pretty reasonable compared to the army’s basic training aircraft. I don’t know what their mission profile looks like but the Astar B3e (now the H125) is the choice for utility operations in hot and high altitude environments. So if they ever sling anything…

    My favorite helicopter so far. Tons of power – essentially just pull collective – and great tail rotor authority!

  5. Speaking of govermental parsimony, here is an extract regarding such from “Eichmann In My Hands: A First-Person Account By The Israeli Agent Who Captured Hitler’s Chief Executioner”; by Peter Z. Malkin:

    Then, again, those who knew Isser [Head of Mossad] even a little found it impossible to conceive of his operating out of the opulent quarters generally reserved for those of his rank. Thrifty beyond reason, ascetic in his personal tastes, his disinterest in traditional comforts (and his aversion to spending the taxpayers’ money) was legendary. On one memorable occasion, put up in Paris at our elegant embassy, he shocked and embarrassed the ambassador by requesting a cot in a small back room instead. It was not for nothing that, except when the circumstances of a case dictated otherwise, his agents abroad were resigned to staying at fleabag hotels.

  6. but the tariff! Airbus will pay the USA 25% up front. Border Patrol could order $12 Billion worth and fund their whole budget, plus boost the EU economy. win-win-win! MAGA! oh wait…

  7. I believe Airbus started manufacturing or at least assembling helicopters in the US about 5 years ago.

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