NH Industries (NHI) insists that its NH90 transport helicopter remains safe to fly, despite Australia’s early retirement of the type in the wake of a fatal crash in July.
Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 29 September that it would not be bringing the MRH90 Taipan – Canberra’s designation for the NH90 – back into service prior to its planned withdrawal in December 2024.
The MRH90 fleet is currently grounded following an accident on 28 July in which four crew members died; a crash investigation is ongoing but is unlikely to conclude until well into 2024, the DoD indicates.
Although the DoD insists its decision “does not presuppose or any way suggest the outcome of the investigations”, it has led to speculation about its reasons for the helicopter’s early retirement.
While expressing its “disappointment” at the decision, NHI stresses that the NH90 does not pose a safety risk.
“NH Industries has already informed operators that it has not identified any information from the initial flight-data analysis that relates to a failure, malfunction or defect linked to the aircraft design,” the manufacturer says.
“NHI has not recommended any additional measures to be applied to the operating fleet.”
In addition, NHI has reiterated its proposal to “support the phasing out” of Australia’s 46 remaining Taipans, which would serve as parts donors for other NH90 operators.