Eagle Copters supporting ASTREA on their rescue missions

Bell 205 machine on its way back to San Diego. Picture by Wes Semeniuk.

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is a law enforcement agency that has an aviation unit providing aerial support commonly known as ASTREA.


The Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies – ASTREA, was established in 1971 by the late sheriff John Duffy. The unit started operating three (3) Bell 47 helicopters purchased with a federal grant. Over the past 48 years, ASTREA has evolved into professional airborne law enforcement and fire rescue unit, highly respected throughout the country.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Unit – ASTREA, operates a fleet of nine helicopters. Of the nine helicopters, four are MD500 series helicopters and two are Bell 407 helicopters, which are primarily dedicated to law enforcement support. Three helicopters (Bell 205 A1++) are primarily dedicated to fire suppression/search and rescue operations.

Bell 205 machine delivery. ASTREA & Eagle Team. Picture by Luba Jovicic.

Bell 205 Helicopter

The relationship between Eagle Copters and ASTREA, started around 2003, when the Cedar fire in San Diego burned more than 273,000 acres and people lost their homes, soon after this unfortunate event the first two of San Diego’s Bell 205 fire-rescue helicopters were ordered. The unit took delivery of the two machines in 2005, and its most senior pilots began training to fly hoist rescue and initial attack fire missions.

“I have been involved with Eagle Copters and their Bell 205’s since the inception of ASTREA’S Fire Rescue program in 2005. I have flown all three of our Bell 205’s built by Eagle and have found them all to be top notch equipment that has covered our mission for 15 years. We have flown these helicopters in some of the worse fire conditions imaginable and they have always completed the mission.” Tony Weber, Senior Fire/Rescue Pilot.

Eagle Copters and ASTREA’s most recent work scopes have been focused on their three Bell 205’s. The original two machines received full “tip to tail” refurbishments identifying and addressing fatigued zones which could lead to unplanned AOG situations in the field. “We are very proud to offer our 24/7 support to ASTREA. The critical role they play in various life saving missions requires lightening quick response time. In addition to their highly skilled maintenance team, we strive to do everything we can to help ensure they experience little to no down time.” Wes Semeniuk, Customer Support Manager.

These completions included avionics packages and NVIS modifications; as well as, ASTREA’s Bell 407 project completion. “We have been working closely with ASTREA to recommend mission-specific Avionics packages to suit their requirements. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Team.” Luba Jovicic, Customer Support – Avionics Lead.

Bell 205 test flying around the Canadian Rockies. Picture by Ryan Lutz.

Ozark Aeroworks

Ozark Aeroworks, Eagle’s engine partner in the USA – Springfield, Missouri, has played a big part in supporting ASTREA’s operations throughout the years. Ozark Aeroworks is a T53 engine maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility with extensive knowledge and in-house capabilities. They are extremely customer focused directly resulting in industry leading quality, price, and fast turn around times.