Did State Officials Put Money Before Safety When Purchasing New Helicopters?
Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:22 PM EDT
After buying pricey helicopters, it appears state officials attempted to save money by pushing back on safety procedures.
After filing a formal request, Fox 45 has obtained letters exchanged between state officials and the Federal Aviation Administration.
At issue is the controversial purchase made back in 2010 of 12 new helicopters for State Police for $168 million.
Only after the contracts were signed did the state realize that these particular choppers require, not one, but two pilots to fly them - a safety requirement Maryland Aviation officials challenged.
Initially, FAA officials responded that the limitation cannot be removed to allow for a single pilot, but they later made an exception through the FAA's flight standards service to drop the requirement for a second pilot with additional training to demonstrate single pilot proficiency.
However, the change to the police was only made after the state pushed back on standard safety guidelines; a change that the FAA says was in part to help the state save money.
Many still question how the state overlooked the requirement in the first place before purchasing the pricey aircrafts.
Source tell Fox45 that State Police may end up using a two-pilot system anyways after a number of their pilots failed to meet the additional training requirements.