SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — A new plane getting ready for take-off for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office. County Commissioners approved the purchase at Wednesday’s meeting after years of discussion.

The office’s current plane, a Turbo Commander, is about 50 years old.

The pandemic put the purchase discussions on pause, but the new aircraft is needed to transfer inmates in and out of Sedgwick County.

Parts for the aging plane are no longer made, and it can be expensive to transfer inmates on other options, such as by car or commercial flights.

The new plane, a King Air 350, is worth $4.2 million. A partnership with the Kansas Highway Patrol and Textron is cutting the cost to $2.5 million.

“This particular plane can actually fly more inmates than our Turbo Commander. It actually will save us money when we are going to far distances to the coasts, which we do go to quite often,” said Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter.

He said there are many benefits to this new aircraft.

“It can be serviced here. The Turbo Commander has to be serviced elsewhere, Indiana or Oklahoma. The other thing is all the pilot training is here for the Turbo Commander. We have to fly to Florida, which is more of an expense to get trained, so there is a lot of benefits to this particular plane being manufactured here, serviced here, and pilots can be trained here,” said Sheriff Easter.

Commissioners approved an additional $650,000 in funds to purchase the plane.

As for the old plane, the sheriff’s office will look at selling it and use those funds toward the new plane.