Eurocopter has rebuffed German media reports questioning the operational suitability of its Tiger attack helicopter, and says the type has passed the 20,000 flight hour mark without incident.
"Wire damage was found in March 2009 in two specific areas of the in-service [Tiger] HAP/UHT helicopters," the company confirms, referring to early production examples delivered to the French and German armies.
"Eurocopter immediately analysed the root causes of the wires chafing, and proposed to users protective measures to prevent any problem." The type's operational capabilities have not been limited by the action and the Tiger remains airworthy, the company adds.
A permanent fix has now been agreed with its customers, and Germany will this month receive its first of two modified aircraft to support flight tests. "Additional deliveries to the German army are foreseen from the fourth quarter of 2010," Eurocopter says.
Launch partners France and Germany have each ordered 80 Tigers, with Eurocopter having so far delivered 23 and 11 of these, respectively. The French army has operated three Tigers in Afghanistan since mid-2009, with the aircraft providing armed support for types including its EC725 combat search and rescue helicopters.
The Australian Army has also received 16 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters from Eurocopter's Australian Aerospace subsidiary, while Spain is using five HAP-configured aircraft to help it prepare for operations with 24 multi-role examples.