RNZAF NH90s on restricted operations after engine failure

File image of a RNZAF NH90.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s fleet of eight NH90s have been flying under restricted conditions since mid-month after an engine failure forced one of the medium utility helicopters to make a precautionary landing.

On April 16, a NH90 with nine people on board had just departed Woodburne Air Force Base, near Blenheim en route back to its base at Ohakea when the crew felt a large vibration followed by a loss of power in the helicopter’s left-hand Rolls-Royce Turbomecca RTM 322-01/9 engine.

The crew safely performed an immediate precautionary landing on a nearby private airstrip.

The problem engine was subsequently removed in situ and shipped to Safran Helicopter Engines at Sydney’s Bankstown Airport for a detailed inspection.

“In light of what has been learned in recent days and the facts yet to be determined, the RNZAF has decided in the interest of safety to limit NH90 flying operations,” read a RNZDF statement following the incident. “The limitation on NH90 operations will prevent flights where an immediate landing will not be possible in the case of an engine-related emergency. For example, over built-up areas, mountainous terrain or over water.”

New Zealand’s Chief of the Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies, said while the helicopters were still able to be used over large parts of the country, and for limited training missions, the Air Force was working with the NH90’s engine manufacturer to determine the cause of the failure and would resume full flying operations as soon as possible.

“By all accounts it was a textbook recovery,” said AVM Davies of the emergency landing.

“The NH90 is a remarkable aircraft, it’s been doing a fantastic job for New Zealand, but we’ve got to take a safe approach to this [engine failure].”

Comments

  1. Ray E says

    Will the same restrictions be applied to the Australian Army and Navy choppers as a precaution?

  2. Stephen B says

    Aircraft involved NZ3304. This aircraft had been doing a flying display at the Yealands Classic Fighters Omaka 2017 over the weekend.

  3. Richard says

    Goodness me – why did we in Australia also get involved with these Airbus/Eurocopter Helicopters?

  4. Nicholas says

    What is it that is so hard about helicopters that we constantly have operational problems with them. That has the case in in Australia for the last two decades. Is it intrinsic to them or our procurement processes that have seen so many duds?

  5. Wayne says

    Three times the cost of the Huey to operate and cutbacks in areas like drug patrols and other aid to the civil power..

  6. Sam says

    Makes you wonder whether Bell 212/412 might been better option with glass cockpits? Sorry to say but I think the American military aircraft are far superior to anything that comes out of Europe.

  7. Rickster says

    Yes I guess the Harrier was a dog & that’s why the US marines took them onboard.
    I’m not sure that it geography that determines good or bad design it’s to do with technical prowess & the right design team.