Airbus Helicopters has defended the NH Industries NH90 military rotorcraft following recent criticism from both the Dutch and Australian governments, describing the issues they raise as "under control".
The Netherlands in June suspended further deliveries of the NFH naval variant of the helicopter until a persistent corrosion issue is solved. And the Australian National Audit Office in late July issued a stinging report into the performance of the 11t rotorcraft in operation with its armed forces.
But Dr Wolfgang Schoder, executive vice-president light and governmental programmes at Airbus Helicopters, which has a majority stake in the NHI consortium, says the NH90 is "a mature helicopter" which is "being delivered according to our contracts".
The corrosion issue, he says, is being taken seriously "but we think we have it under control". It will roll out both corrective and preventative measures to address the issues, he says. For instance, operators are being advised of more stringent cleaning and inspection regimes, plus some "minor changes to the design" will be introduced.
"Some materials which are used are not appropriate and we will correct that," says Schoder.
"You always foresee [some corrosion] on a naval helicopter, but it is very difficult to avoid it 100%. You have to bring it to a level that's manageable, but we should have been prepared better for that," he says.
Schoder also heads up Airbus Helicopters's German operation, which, assuming parliamentary approval is given, will begin delivering NH90s to the German navy from 2018.
Any "teething problems" will be solved by then, he adds, having been worked through by early customers, notably the French and Dutch.
Australia's MRH90 troop transports are also showing improvement, he says, noting that as "the number of flying hours" increases, costs per hour are coming down.
He stops short of dismissing the ANAO report entirely, but says it is "based on very old information".
"We have very clear availability KPIs defined with Australia to measure it and we are exchanging all the data. There is no concern from my side that we are not on the right track."