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Police, Fire Department helicopters return to air

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    Firefighters responded to six rescues Saturday involving Air 1.

The police and fire department helicopters are back in the air after the city secured an interim contract to maintain them.

The city grounded the two yellow fire department helicopters and the two blue ones flown by police pilots last week when the previous maintenance contractor, Rotor Wing Hawaii, ran into financial trouble.

Jesse Broder Van Dyke, city spokesman, said Rotor Wing Hawaii was supposed to maintain and insure the four helicopters from their hangers on Lagoon Drive.

But after the owner died, the company was facing bankruptcy and its insurance expired July 21.

“For obvious reasons, the (city) budget department does not want the helicopters flying without insurance and a maintenance crew,” Van Dyke said.

On Monday, Van Dyke said the city has an interim maintenance plan in place, and the city’s risk management office has determined that the city’s insurance policy will cover the helicopter’s operations.  

“Helicopter operations are good to go for mission duties,” he added. “This includes training, patrol, search and rescue, firefighting.”

Van Dyke did not say how long it would take to get a permanent maintenance contractor.

The Fire Department’s two helicopters were only out of service for a day on July 21, until the Fire Department found an interim contractor.

Honolulu Police Department’s two helicopters returned to limited service for emergency operations on Wednesday.

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