In 1998, the state’s Department of Commerce bought the helicopter for $6.8 million. The goal was to use the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Sikorsky S-76C to bring in new businesses to the area. In 2010, the Sikorsky S-76C was consolidated under the Department of Transportation. A few years later, the General assembly gave an order to sell the helicopter.
After four unsuccessful years of attempting to sell their 20 year old helicopter, North Carolina lawmakers finally broke down and hired an aircraft broker.
First listed on eBay, the minimum asking price was set at $2 million, an accurate appraisal for 2013. The highest bidder came in at $1.5 million and was rejected. Completing an engine overhaul and maintenance work in 2015, the helicopter was appraised again at $2.5 million. Unable to sell locally, the state began using the helicopter to transport the governor and to respond to disaster areas. By the end of 2016, three other offers were put on the table and declined.
Losing patience, the General Assembly passed a bill in 2017 that required the state to hire an aircraft broker. Putting the Sikorsky on the market for $2.4 million, Carolina Jet of Winston-Salem received four genuine offers. Not receiving any deal above $1.8 million, the brokers decided to lower the price of the helicopter to $1.9 million.
A deal was struck with RGBT for $1.75 million. The broker’s commission was 3 percent, and the sale was finalized on May 18, 2018. The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Sikorsky S-76C finally sold.
State economic developers tend to use helicopters to get an aerial view of land that they intend to purchase. This kind of view shows the entire property as a whole and its proximity to roads and railways. Since North Carolina no longer owns a helicopter, they will need to lease one for the purpose of scouting potential land grabs.
Previously housed at the state Division of Aviation hangar at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the Sikorsky S-76C is a medium-size utility helicopter that is typically used for commercial purposes. This may have contributed to its long sale time. It falls into a niche market of potential buyers. Equipped with twin turboshaft engine and retractable landing gear, it’s primarily seen in use in the oil drilling industry.
James Pearce, the spokesman for the Division of Aviation in North Carolina, said that he was happy with the price they got considering that the Sikorsky was 20-years old.