Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Helicopters cleared to return to skies

A 48-hour pause on flying of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 medium utility helicopters fleet has ended and the fleet is again available to fly from today, the NZ Defence force has announced this morning.

The pause, which came into effect on Tuesday morning, followed the fatal crash of an Australian Army MRH90 Taipan helicopter in the Whitsundays, off Queensland, on Friday night during Exercise Talisman Sabre which killed four Australian crew. The MRH90 Taipan and NH90 are the same aircraft type.

RNZAF Chief, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark said the pause on flying of the eight New Zealand helicopters had been a precautionary approach.

“The pause was so the Air Force could conduct a risk assessment. That assessment looked at airworthiness and safety, including systems and processes, as well as any new information from the Australian Defence Force, other users, and the manufacturer,” he said.

“We have not identified any new hazards or elevated risks that are not already considered within the RNZAF NH90 airworthiness framework.

Accordingly I have directed that the operating pause is lifted without any restrictions.”

The NH90s are operated by No. 3 Squadron based at Ohakea in Manawatū. Three of the helicopters are currently deployed on Exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia and were not involved in Friday’s incident. 

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