australian aviation logo

RNZAF clears NH90 helicopters as Talisman Sabre troops head home

written by Robert Dougherty | August 9, 2023

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has cleared its fleet of NH90 medium utility helicopters of any problems after the fatal crash of an Australian Army MRH90 Taipan helicopter in the Whitsundays.

A 48-hour pause was initially implemented on all RNZAF NH90 medium utility helicopters including three deployed to Exercise Talisman Sabre, following the tragic loss of the ADF helicopter and four onboard aircrew. The Taipan’s black box was recovered on Tuesday.

MRH90 Taipan helicopters operated by the Australian Army remain grounded, while investigations continue into the crash.

RNZAF Chief Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark said the NZ pause on flying of the eight New Zealand NH90 helicopters operated by the Ohakea-based No. 3 Squadron 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 ruling comes as more than 300 New Zealand Defence Force troops head back across the ditch after taking part in an enormous military exercise throughout late July and early August featuring 30,000 military personnel from 13 countries.

New Zealand fielded a 150-strong NZ Army combat team mounted in light armoured vehicles, as well as New Zealand liaison officers for support about Australian process, planning, and procedures.

The incident has raised questions surrounding the use of the Taipan, which has been involved in multiple groundings and is set to exit the ADF next year.

The Taipan fleet was grounded in 2019, 2021 and earlier this year after an aircraft ditched off the NSW South Coast.

Initially purchased for $3.7 billion in 2005–2006 to replace ageing Black Hawk and Sea King fleets, the locally-assembled Taipan has proven a headache for Defence, with statistics showing just 46 per cent of MRH-90 aircraft allocated to flying units were available to fly in 2021.

The incident in March saw 10 ADF personnel on a routine counter-terrorism training exercise rescued from the water near Jervis Bay, with two sustaining minor injuries.

Its problems led to Defence deciding to replace the fleet with MH-60R Seahawks and UH-60M Black Hawks, the first two of which recently touched down on Australian soil.

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

Comment (1)

  • The New Zealanders seem to be more adept at operating and MAINTAINING their copter fleet than the Oz defence forces. Their NH90s have been cleared for continuing operation, while their Navy continues to operate the Seasprite, a helicopter which was abandoned by Australia and given to NZ in the,early 2000s!

Comments are closed.

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.