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Columbus, OH, Police Ground Helicopter Unit

Gaps Found In On Aircraft's Maintenance Records

The helicopter unit of the Columbus, OH, police department was grounded last Friday after gaps were found in the maintenance records of an aircraft that was slated for sale.

The gaps were found by an external review of the records following a lawsuit stemming from an emergency landing by helicopter that had been previously sold by the department to a Canadian individual. That aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing after just 30 hours of flight, and last September the city lost a federal lawsuit that resulted from the incident.

After losing the case, East West Helicopter Inc., based near Cincinnati, was retained to conduct the external audit of another aircraft being readied for sale, according to a report appearing in the Columbus Dispatch. The examination turned up "some gaps in those records as to scheduled maintenance," according to Police Sgt. Rich Weiner.

Now, East West is inspecting the individual aircraft, which will reportedly cost the city about $20,000. While the 21 officers assigned to the unit are still reporting for duty as scheduled, none of their aircraft are flying. The unit normally flies about 16 hours per day seven days a week. They respond to an average of 7,000 calls each year.

The budget for the unit last fiscal year was $3.1 million, but officers on the ground have called the unit "invaluable."

FMI: www.columbuspolice.org/AboutCPD/Highlights/highlights.html

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