Commercial, Public Service

Rotorcraft Report: N.Y. Police Ground Explorers, Seeks Emergency Replacements

By Staff Writer | February 1, 2005

Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul, Police, Utility

CIVIL

N.Y. Police Ground Explorers, Seeks Emergency Replacements

Suffolk County, N.Y, grounded its police department’s two MD902 medevac helicopters in December 2004 in a dispute with MD Helicopters over the need to replace rotor hubs that the department said are cracked.

The move came as a department’s third aircraft, a Eurocopter AS350B2 based at Long Island MacArthur Airport, was down for scheduled maintenance. As a result, the department had to suspend operations of its East End air rescue unit at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, N.Y. The Suffolk County police bought the $5-million MD902s three years ago.

New York State Police sent a helicopter and pilot to operate out of Long Island MacArthur Airport for two weeks to assist during the grounding.

According to county officials, the department discovered in late 2004 that the rotor hubs on both MD902s were cracked and needed to be grounded. Department mechanics immediately ordered replacement parts, county officials said, but MD Helicopter’s financial problems led to repeated delays in delivery of the parts.

Some parts were delivered Jan. 10, but by that time the county was looking for new aircraft. The next day, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy signed off on an expedited procurement process to purchase a new medevac helicopter and get it flying for the county as soon as possible. The county allocated $3.1 million for the new aircraft. While it would normally take up to eight months to receive a new helicopter, according to the county, the declaration of a state of emergency by Levy would cut that time in half. Bids for a new aircraft were made by American Eurocopter and Agusta Aerospace Corp.

The county is considering suing MD Helicopters over the matter.

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