KAMOV search-and-rescue choppers stay grounded as police seize contracts

Portugal’s hugely expensive Kamov ‘fleet’ of search-and-rescue helicopters remains inoperational as the company that originally sold the six choppers to the State has won a legal bid to recover almost €3 million in unpaid maintenance and operational costs.

Heliportugal’s legal coup should see the ANPC civil protection authority paying out more than €2.7 million all told, explains TVI24 – after being ordered by the arbitrational court last year to pay out over €1.7 million relating to the whole confusion over the original contracts.

As the nation’s press has revealed repeatedly over the years, the purchase of the Kamov’s has been shrouded in suspicion since they landed in Portugal, 10 years ago, ironically purchased when prime minister António Costa was minister for internal administration.

Costa has since answered questions over their reliability and affirmed that none of them were grounded when he left his government post in 2007.

But now the repair bill toll is weighing heavily on the State which has extended its inquiry into the problems until April.

As Público explained in January, the inquiry should have taken a month but is now scheduled to take almost a year, at which point we should all hopefully learn who or what has been responsible for the “grave problems” detected in the helicopters which have seen them grounded since May 2015.

In the meantime, search-and-rescue operations are the responsibility of the Air Force Merlin helicopters, writes Correio da Manhã.

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