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.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,