- (Photo: Augusta Westlands)
Maryland will begin replace its aging fleet of medevac helicopters with state-of-the-art choppers from Augusta Westlands.
The Board of Public Works approved the $72.2 million contact for six AW-139 helicopters on Wednesday. The contract contains an option to purchase six more.
The new helicopters feature "terrain awareness warning systems, night vision compatibility, cockpit voice and video recorders, radar altimeters, and advanced instrument flight rating capabilities." The Federal Aviation Administration has recommended such systems to improve safety.
Maryland State Police operate 11 helicopters from seven stations across the state. The first two new aircraft are scheduled for delivery in about 18 months, with all six in operation within two years.
The new helicopters will replace the oldest in the fleet. Eight of the 11 helicopters currently in use are more than 20 years old.
On Sept. 27, 2008, MSP helicopter Trooper 2 crashed in zero-visibility conditions just before midnight in District Heights. The crash killed four people, including the pilot, two medics, and a patient. Another patient, Jordan Wells, survived.