The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has stopped NH90 helicopter operations following an emergency landing near Blenheim Sunday. The helicopter engine has been sent to Sydney for examination.
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. 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, the RNZAF said in a press statement Friday.
“The engine had been pulled out of the helicopter which was forced to land on Sunday, and it would be sent to Sydney for examination and almost certainly parts would need to be sent to a laboratory in France to find out exactly what failed,” Air Force Chief, Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies was quoted as saying by Radio New Zealand Friday.
The Air Force was still investigating what caused problems to the engine, but said it would limit use of the helicopters in the interest of safety.
Davies said it could be anywhere from a week to three or four weeks before the problem was fixed.
He said half of the crew had just completed their emergency training refresher course and the others had done so a year before, and was by all accounts a textbook recovery.
The NH90 helicopter model has two engines, he said, allowing it to be landed with a reasonable amount of control even if one engine fails.
The helicopters cost New Zealand $770 million for the eight helicopters over 30 years.
The helicopter that made the emergency landing had nine people on board at the time, and was experiencing problems with one of its two engines.