Thursday, January 3, 2013

APD records indicate that helicopter was in 'meticulous' condition at the time of crash

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Officer Richard Halford was one of two officers that died in a helicopter crash on Nov. 3
  • APD
  • Officer Richard Halford was one of two officers that died in a helicopter crash on Nov. 3
Two months after a pair of Atlanta police officers died in a helicopter crash, which prompted questions about why a 16-year-old helicopter was still in operation, records indicate that the aircraft was properly serviced over the years.

On November 3, Officers Richard Halford and Shawn Smiley took to the air in search of a missing child. What happened after that still remains uncertain as the APD helicopter crashed near Martin Luther King Jr. and Hamilton Holmes drives in southwest Atlanta.

According to police records obtained by the AJC, the APD appeared to have maintained the Hughes OH-6 in "meticulous" fashion, well in line with Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

The APD also asked aviation and mechanical expert Matthew Lykins to examine the helicopter's history, about which he said:

"The police department did not skimp...Some of these things are extremely expensive to replace, hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace an engine. They weren't putting budget over safety. Safety was definitely driving their operation."

The documents outline an extensive service history, showing that the APD refurbished the helicopter six years ago after first being donated to its fleet in 1996. The OH-6, originally built in 1967, had remained out of commission from the end of last July until mid-September as it underwent additional maintenance.

A full investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board won't be completed until later this year, but an APD spokesman said that the OH-6 was generally seen as a helicopter that pilots felt comfortable flying, at one point earning the nickname "Old Faithful." That pending NTSB report, however, should reveal whether a human error or mechanical failure caused the accident.

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