MRH90 and NH90 investigations ongoing

MRH90 and NH90 investigations ongoing
An Australian Submarine conducts personnel transfers with a MRH-90 Taipan helicopter

Senate estimates this week have discussed the recent briefings Australia has had over various issues facing both the MRH90 aircraft and New Zealand's NH90 aircraft.

Both the MRH90 and NH90, dubbed as "very similar" by Director General Army Aviation Systems Jeremy King, have experienced platform issues in recent months.

In April this year, the RNZAF's NH90 fleet was grounded following an in-flight single engine failure which forced an emergency landing.

Following the incident the New Zealand Air Force said they would no longer fly in areas where immediate landings are not possible, such as over built-up areas, mountains or water.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, identified issues with the blades of Australia's MRH90 on the LHD vessels where "blades have exceeded what we would normally consider to be relevant engineering limits."

Director General Army Aviation Systems Jeremy King told Senate estimates "there is a group and we meet regularly. In regards to the [NH90] engine issue we've been briefed by the engine manufacturer two weeks ago and we're comfortable that we understand the issue and they're working with that problem to resolve that problem."

Further questions revealed, despite the similarities between the countries fleets, no inspections have been carried out on Australia's aircraft in relation to the issues facing the NH90 fleet.

"We follow the advice from the OEM, the original equipment manufacturer, and at this stage we haven't commenced those inspections," King said.

King also added, in response to whether these issues would affect the sustainment of the MRH90, that they are "working very closely with the original equipment manufacturer to understand at what point or what we will need to do in the future based on their advice. At this stage they're investigating it and keeping us abreast of their investigations and findings as they work through those."

When asked whether any issues facing the fleets fall under a contractual obligation, it was stated by King that "there has been no direction from the manufacturer to commit to any repairs and so as such once that occurs then we will work through that based on the advice of the manufacturer."

The MRH90 fleet was manufactured by Australian Aerospace, a Eurocopter subsidiary which is now a subsidiary of Airbus Helicopters.

New Zealand's NH90 fleet of eight was purchased in 2006 for NZ$771 million. The aircraft is no stranger to controversy, in 2012 a flaw revealed they could not be flown in snowy conditions.






MRH90 and NH90 investigations ongoing
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