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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The Department of Transportation says its plans to switch out two North Carolina government-owned planes and one helicopter with newer and more efficient aircraft will save $500,000 annually.

DOT announced Monday it will sell initially a Cessna jet and Sikorsky helicopter and replace them with a turbo propeller aircraft and Bell helicopter. The new plane can be used for aerial photography and ferrying state officials. The Bell helicopter will be shared with the Highway Patrol.

A 2012 report by the legislature’s fiscal watchdog agency recommended the state get rid of the Sikorsky because it flew less than six hours a month for $560,000 in 2011. The report said the Bell could be operated at 40 percent lower costs.

DOT also plans to sell another airplane and obtain a smaller aircraft.

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