Ignored State Police Helicopter Proposal Could Have Saved Taxpayers Millions
Updated: Wednesday, February 6 2013, 11:32 PM EST
The Maryland State Police are planning to take delivery of 12 new state of the art helicopters with heavy price tags this month. But a Fox45 investigation shows that there was a cheaper alternative proposed to state officials that would have saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
The $130 million taxpayer purchase has been embroiled in controversy after Fox45 learned the state wants to fly the helicopters with one pilot. However, the manual for the AW139 helicopters call for two pilots and the FAA requires two pilots to operate.
If the waiver is not granted for the state, hiring and training new pilots would cost state police $2 million more every year.
"They were projected to cost about $11 million apiece, last numbers we see last delivery around $14.7 million," said State Senator E.J. Pipkin.
Fox45 dug deeper into the program and found a plan that could have saved tax payers millions of dollars, but it was ignored. The plan, presented to state legislators in 2008, proposed contracting the state medevac system to a private company. The plan would have made the purchase of the new helicopters unnecessary and slashed medevac operating costs by $2 million annually.
The plan, according to safety data, would also have not compromised safety.
An analysis of helicopter accidents compiled from the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that privately operated helicopters accounted for only 10 percent of fatalities since 2009. Publicly operated helicopters were involved in 90 percent of fatalities.
For now, the state plans to have six of the AW139's delivered over the next two months.