The MD 520N (Notar) Helicopter known as "Air 20" returned to service Saturday flying it's first patrol flight in over two years, over the city of Louisville. The helicopter, operated by Louisville Metro Police Department was damaged in a training accident in August of 2006. It has been undergoing repairs in Arizona since the crash.
To make matters worse LMPD was forced to sell the second helicopter "Air 10" in 2008 due to budgetary reasons. As a result LMPD was left without a Police Patrol Helicopter for over a year.
Part of the delay in repairing the helicopter was a lack of parts according to officials, (MD Helicopters went through a period where they were slow or unable to provide many replacement helicopter parts. However this situation has improved immensely under the leadership of MD's CEO Lynn Tilton.) Eventually the repairs were made and the helicopter was picked up by LMPD pilots last week and flown cross country back to Kentucky. No problems were reported with the helicopter during the return flight.
The crash in 06 occurred with a student pilot at the controls of Air 20, (closely followed by an instructor pilot on the second set of controls.) The student pilot was practicing a steep approach to a hover in an open field when things awry. After a momentary hover the helicopter landed hard and rolled onto it's right side. The NTSB determined the cause of the crash as follows; "The pilot's failure to maintain control of the helicopter and the instructor's inadequate supervision which resulted in a hard landing and subsequent rollover."
When asked if Air 20 could suffer the same fate as Air 10, LMPD's police chief made it clear that he values police officers over police helicopters, and that everything is on the table.
The flight status of the two officers involved in the original crash is unknown, but PHP staff wishes them well in their flying careers. This crash is another example of the very dynamic nature of helicopter flight.
Additional Info: Notar was developed by MD Helicopter engineers, and stands for "no tail rotor." The anti-torque normally achieved with a tail rotor on other helicopters, is achieved on the Notar through a number of design features, including the vectoring of compressed air (at the proper angles and amounts) from a vent at the end of the tail boom. While Notar's are much quieter without the tail rotor noise, they have their own flight characteristics and some drawbacks which make them undesirable for some missions, such as mountain work.