Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is dealing with an icing issue with the KUH-1 Surion helicopter, which is severe enough to stop deliveries of the rotorcraft.
KAI confirms that it will need to redesign engine parts that ice up in certain conditions. The icing issue emerged during winter testing in the US state of Wisconsin between October and March.
Given the challenging winter conditions in South Korea, the Surion’s ability to operate in frigid conditions is very important.
It will take KAI up to 18 months to deal with the icing problem.
The icing issue emerged as the fleet is mostly grounded owing to a separate gearbox issue with the Surion, which is closely related to Airbus Helicopters’ ill-fated H225.
A July report by state news agency Yonhap, quoting an official at Seoul’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), said that Airbus Helicopters informed DAPA that the fatal crash of an H225 in Norway was due to a “defective main gearbox”. The report adds that 57% of the Surions in military service will need their gearboxes replaced, and that Airbus will reimburse the South Korean government.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that there are 52 Surions in service, with another 49 on firm order.
The South Korean army operates 45 examples, with orders for 47 more, KAI has four, and the Korea National Policy Agency has three, with a firm order for another. In addition, the South Korean Forestry Aviation office has a single Surion on order.
KAI says that only the three helicopters operated by the police are still flying.