MRH-90 of the Australian Army (photo : DefenseIndustryDaily)
Australia's fleet of 11 NH Industries MRH90 helicopters have been grounded for the past month, pending the outcome of an investigation into an engine failure in one of the aircraft.
"The helicopter suffered an engine failure in one of its two main engines on 20 April, about 30min north-east of Adelaide," says the Australian Department of Defence. "The helicopter returned to Royal Australian Air Force base Edinburgh without further incident, or injuries to personnel."
Flying operations have been suspended while the cause of the engine failure remains under investigation, it adds.
Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation is undertaking a forensic analysis of engine components. A specialist team from engine-makers Rolls-Royce and Turbomeca are in Australia assisting with the investigation, it says.
Canberra has ordered 46 MRH90s, which are derivatives of the NH90. Eleven have been delivered to the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy, with the rest scheduled to be handed over by 2014.
"The full impact of the engine failure on the project schedule is yet to be determined," the DoD says.
Eurocopter, the majority shareholder in the NHI consortium, is leading a bid to also sell the NH90 naval helicopter to Australia. It has been stressing the 80% commonality in avionics and airframe between the NH90 and MRH90 as an advantage in this competition, where it is up against the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk for the 24-aircraft requirement.