The ADF has grounded its fleet of 11 MRH 90 helicopters after one experienced what was reportedly a “catastrophic” engine failure on a flight near Adelaide on April 20.
Almost a month after the event, the Department of Defence confirmed in a statement on its website on May 18 that an MRH 90 returned to RAAF Base Edinburgh on April 20 after suffering an engine failure while on a flight northeast of Adelaide. MRH 90 flying operations were immediately suspended, and specialists from engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce Turbomeca have been brought to Australia to assist the DSTO with forensic analysis of engine components to determine why one of the RTM322-01/9 engines failed.
“The full impact of the engine failure on the project schedule is yet to be determined,” the Defence statement reads.
Opposition defence science and personnel spokesman Bob Baldwin has criticised the time taking for news of the grounding to emerge. “The issue here is not the grounding of the helicopter due to a fault; that’s to be commended,” he told ABC Radio’s AM program on May 19. “The issue here is the secrecy that has occurred under this Rudd-Labor Government where they have hid from the public for 28 days the fact that there has been a problem with this helicopter.”
Eleven of the 46 MRHs on order for the Army and Navy have been accepted by the ADF and are currently being used for training and testing.