SANDY SPRING, Md. -- The National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report confirms that malfunctioning equipment contribute to the Maryland State Police medical helicopter crash that killed four people.
The helicopter left Andrews Air Force Base at 11:10 p.m. on Sept. 27 to go to a car crash scene in Waldorf, where they arrived at 11:27 p.m., according to the report.
It took off with two crash victims and headed to Prince George's County Hospital, and at 11:48 p.m. the pilot radioed air traffic control and said it could not complete the flight because of weather conditions.
At 11:55 p.m., the helicopter was given permission to land at Andrews, and less than 30 seconds later the pilot reported that he was having trouble with the glide slope, an instrument that provides an approaching pilot with vertical guidance.
As the chopper appraoched Andrews, the pilot radioed the tower controller, saying he needed help making a difficult landing. The controller responded that she was not qualified to assist with the landing.
At that time, no more communications ever came from the pilot and the chopper dropped off radar.
Minutes later, authorities realized the helicopter never landed.
The helicopter crash killed one of the car crash victims, the pilot, the emergency medical technician and the flight paramedic.
"This is a preliminary report," said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley. "We continue to investigate what occurred that night and why. We continue to maintain that the Maryland State Police Aviation Command has an outstanding safety record and we will continue to work to improve this system that saves thousands of lives each ear."