Maryland State Police received the first of 10 new helicopters to replace the current fleet, but it is still months before it will be put into service.
The pilots and paramedics will undergo extensive training for the new helicopters before they are put into service. The state does not expect the new helicopter to be deployed until 2013.
The other nine helicopters in the fleet are still in production and have not yet been delivered to the state.
Maryland has a $121.7 million contract with AgustaWestland for 10 helicopters. “This new helicopter and the others that will follow, represent an incredible improvement to public safety capabilities in Maryland,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Marcus Brown said. “They will provide a safer aircraft for our crews, with more room and equipment for our flight paramedics to care for the injured.”
The current state police helicopter fleet of 11 helicopters, used for medevacs and air searches, includes 10 that are more than 20 years old.
State officials had expected delivery of the first two helicopters on May 1, but delivery was made to make changes to the cabin interior.
The twin-engine Agusta AW139 helicopters were selected as part of the changes to the state’s helicopter fleet in the wake of a 2008 single-engine Dauphin crash that took four lives.
Still undecided is whether the new helicopters will have a single pilot or two pilots. State Police told the House Emergency Medical Systems Workgroup in March that the pilots wanted some experience with the new helicopter before making a recommendation.