Overhaul of State's Rescue Helicopter Fleet Sparks Controversy
Updated: Thursday, February 28 2013, 10:40 PM EST
An overhaul of the state's medevac and rescue fleet has sparked controversy. New helicopters purchased to replace an existing fleet that is raising questions about safety and if the state made the best deal for taxpayers.
It was a high profile arrival touted as a cause for celebration. The delivery of two Augusta Westland AW 139S helicopters to state police aviation command this week are the first of ten new helicopters slated to replace the existing fleet.
The incoming fleet is costing taxpayers one hundred and thirty million dollars.
Even as state officials sign on the dotted line, questions continue about safety, including if one pilot is enough to fly the aircraft.
Helicopter engineer, Benjiman Hein, who works for a competitor of the company who built the AW-139s, says two pilots would maximize safety. But the state has yet to decide.
Another concern is the weight of the aircraft, and its size. The helicopter can carry fifteen people, but some say that will make it tough to land on unimproved surfaces.