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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Maryland State Police Kicks Off AW139 Fleet Upgrade

First of a 10-helicopter order intended to replace a fleet of Eurocopter AS365 Dauphins.

By Ernie Stephens, Editor-at-Large

Community members, health service providers and public safety officials gathered with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Friday to take delivery of the first AgustaWestland AW139 to join the Maryland State Police (MSP) Aviation Command. The medium twin-engine aircraft, plus nine sister ships due for future handover, will gradually replace the agency’s aging fleet of Eurocopter Dauphins currently in use for police, SAR and medevac missions.

MSP has been the primary provider of helicopter medevac services for the state since 1970, when it made the country’s first, non-military, emergency patient transport. The command flew Bell 206B Jet Rangers for the next 18 years before transitioning into the AS365 Dauphin. But as that fleet began to age, MSP started its search for an even larger helicopter with the size, power and versatility needed to operate in every environment, from Maryland's Atlantic shores to its western mountain ranges.

“You should expect [the state] to step up and support you with the best equipment, and the best technology, and the safest equipment that we can possibly obtain,” O’Malley said to the pilots and flight paramedics in the audience. “And that’s why we have chosen to invest $121 million in 10 new, state-of-the-art helicopters that will replace our current fleet.”

Photos by Ernie Stephens

Aircraft N381MD, which was delivered to MSP’s Aviation Command headquarters at Martin State Airport (MTN) for the Oct. 5 handover, is equipped with Honeywell’s Epic avionics suite; Wulfsberg RT5000, P25-compliant digital transceivers from Cobham; a nose-mounted Wescam MX-15i forward-looking infrared camera system with digital downlink capabilities; moving map system; port-mounted searchlight, rescue hoist, fast rope attach points, and fully equipped medical services area.

Once pilot and crew training has been completed, the MSP’s AW139s will be deployed to its seven bases, where they will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The remaining three aircraft will be used for training and backup as needed.

Related: Police Helicopter News

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