New plane, helicopter join Collier Mosquito Control District fleet
As part of its long-term plan to modernize its aerial fleet, the Collier Mosquito Control District’s aircraft fleet now includes a Twin Otter fixed-wing and a second Bell 407 helicopter to perform aerial treatment missions for the control of both larval and adult mosquitoes.
As the District prepares for boundary expansion to serve a growing community, these ships bring increased capacity and reliability. The District’s aerial fleet now includes three airplanes and four helicopters.
Since the early 1990’s, the District’s fleet included three Shorts Brothers Skyvans and five MD 500 (D-model) helicopters. The District recently sold three of its MD helicopters and one of its Skyvans as part of its plan to modernize the fleet. The long-term plan to replace Skyvans with Twin Otter turboprops and adding Bell 407’s to the helicopter fleet is fully underway. The two remaining MD helicopters have been fully restored to like-new condition.
“The Skyvans are reliable, sturdy ships perfectly suited for aerial applications, however it’s becoming more and more difficult to quickly obtain necessary parts for these ships, which are no longer in production,” District Executive Director Patrick Linn said. “Our long-term plan – which is supported by our five-member Board of Commissioners – is to begin replacing them with ships that can do the job, and readily obtain parts for them when needed.”
The new Bell 407 helicopter is the second one purchased since 2018, and it’s specifically outfitted to apply an organic mosquito control material called Merus 3.0.
The larger size of the Bell 407 allows it to carry more material than the small MD 500 helicopters. Fewer return trips to reload materials makes it a more economical and efficient addition to the fleet. Further, the night vision compatible flight deck of the new Bell significantly improves safety of flight in nighttime operations.
The first Bell 407 added to the District’s fleet in 2018 is fitted with equipment to apply granules of larval control material to swampy areas that are known to produce mosquitoes. It typically applies materials made with Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (Bti), which is a biological bacterium found in soils. It only affects the larvae of the mosquito, blackfly, and fungus gnat. It has no toxicity to people and can be used for pest control in organic farming operations.
The Collier Mosquito Control District was created in 1950 as an Independent Special District of the State of Florida contributing to the health, welfare, and comfort of District residents through integrated pest management programs that suppress mosquito populations. For more information, call (239) 436-1000 or visit www.cmcd.org.