Australia — MRH-90 Recommencement of Flying Operations

The Aus­tralian Defence Force (ADF) today announced that Mul­ti Role Heli­copters (MRH-90s) will recom­mence fly­ing oper­a­tions lat­er this week.

This fol­lows an inci­dent north of Ade­laide in April this year where an MRH-90 suf­fered an engine fail­ure in one of its two main engines. 

The Defence Materiel Organisation’s (DMO) Head Heli­copter Sys­tems Divi­sion, Rear Admi­ral Mark Camp­bell, stat­ed that media reports alleg­ing pilot error being a fac­tor in the engine fail­ure were incorrect. 

“There is no sug­ges­tion of pilot error as alleged in one UK report,” Rear Admi­ral Camp­bell said. Euro­copter CEO, Dr Lutz Bertling, has also writ­ten to the Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel and Sci­ence, Greg Com­bet to direct­ly refute any sug­ges­tion that engine dam­age was caused by improp­er han­dling of the air­craft by ADF pilots. 

Rear Admi­ral Camp­bell also said an inspec­tion regime and pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures have been devel­oped to lift the cur­rent fly­ing suspension. 

“I can con­firm fly­ing oper­a­tions will com­mence short­ly fol­low­ing approval by Defence’s Oper­a­tional Air­wor­thi­ness Authority. 

“Exten­sive work has been con­duct­ed by Rolls Royce Tur­bome­ca and our Indus­try part­ners with sup­port from the Defence Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Organ­i­sa­tion to iden­ti­fy the cause of the engine failure. 

“We are advised the fail­ure result­ed from com­pres­sor blade frac­ture due to con­tact with the engine casing.” 

The impact of the engine fail­ure com­bined with the work­load to address some tech­ni­cal issues with this very capa­ble but high­ly com­plex dig­i­tal air­craft will delay the first flight at sea for Navy, which is now expect­ed to occur in mid 2011. 

The first Army capa­bil­i­ty objec­tive of one deploy­able MRH-90 troop will also be delayed. 

Of the 46 MRH-90 heli­copters ordered for the Aus­tralian Navy and Army, 11 have been accept­ed and are being used for train­ing and test­ing which con­tributes to the devel­op­ment of oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty over the next few years. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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