Several State Police Helicopters Grounded

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For nearly four days Maryland State Police told WJZ they’ve had to operate with less than their full set of resources.

According to MSP spokesman Greg Shipley, police were forced to ground 10 of their helicopters after an inspection found 2 of them had cracks in the paint on the tail rotor blades.

Three of the seven aviation sections are still operational – Baltimore, Easton, and Frederick. The Washington section is expected to follow suit, and the Southern Maryland section is set to be up by Thursday.

The first crack dates back to January 9. Police said the physical blade was fine and replaced after being repainted.

The second set of cracks were uncovered January 29 and prompted a full inspection of all choppers.

“There are 4 blades on each tail rotor of each helicopter and the inspections have been conducted. 12 blades have been taking back to the manufacturer,” Shipley said.

Those that have passed inspection are currently being reinstalled on the choppers.

This happened a few years after the chopper fleet was upgraded to newer models. A change made in part as a result of a tragic accident.

The new AW139 choppers that covers Frederick, Easton and Baltimore are already back online.

The helicopters at Joint Base Andrews and Saint Mary’s County are expected to follow suit. But, part delays may impact the choppers in Cumberland and Salisbury.

Despite the setback, officials say emergency services have not been put at risk.

“The Delaware State Police, the U.S. Park Police. We assist them, they assist us in times when we’re not available, so during this period if someone called for medevac services it was provided,” he said.

The blade’s manufacturer from Philadelphia is in Maryland during the inspection process.

MSP said at any given time they do have seven choppers in service, with the others being rotated as service is needed.

No official word have been given on when the full fleet will be restored.

Every call for a medevac that has come in has been responded to, and Shipley said that will continue to be the case.

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