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No links found between March and July Taipan crashes

written by Jake Nelson | October 25, 2023

Defence has permanently retired its MRH-90 Taipan fleet. (Image: Defence)

Investigations have found no links between the ditching of an Army MRH-90 Taipan at Jervis Bay in March and the fatal crash of another Taipan during Exercise Talisman Sabre in July.

The incident in March, which saw Defence’s entire Taipan fleet grounded, has been found to have been caused by a faulty engine part. Reports have confirmed, however, that the engines on the Taipan that crashed near Lindeman Island in July were both “running normally”.

According to senior military figures cited by the ABC, a “first stage high-pressure turbine fan-blade failure” in one of the two engines brought down the Taipan in March. The problem had been known in these engines for around 10 years.

“This was a known failure condition that had been previously identified to us as early as 2012, with a modification proposed to us by the original (engine) equipment manufacturer,” a source told the ABC.

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast, Defence Minister Richard Marles said there had not been a mandatory requirement for the modification, only a recommendation. The Taipan involved in the incident had not received the modification but was still certified as airworthy.


“There’s been a process of putting those rectifications in place in respect of the guidelines that have been issued by the manufacturer, by Airbus,” the Minister said.

“That’s what the army were doing in relation to this … it was happening in accordance with the instructions that were being provided by Airbus. And obviously those rectifications in the aftermath of that were completed.”

The Taipan involved in the July incident, which killed four personnel, had received the recommended modifications. Investigations are continuing into the crash, with weather and route among the factors already examined; a full report is not expected before mid-2024 at the earliest.

Defence has retired its Taipan fleet early following the crash in July. The helicopters were originally to be withdrawn in December 2024.

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