The Royal New Zealand Air Force's fleet of NH Industries NH90 medium utility helicopters has cleared the first phase of operational testing and evaluation activities, enabling the type to undertake its first operational taskings for the service.
By approving the NH90's interim type certificate and an initial release of operational capability, the air force is now cleared to perform New Zealand-based passenger and cargo tasks using its NH90s. This will provide non-tactical support to the armed services and government agencies, it says.
The air force says its new aircraft are making good progress and will represent a substantial improvement over its long-serving Bell UH-1H Iroquois transports, but that further work must be done before the new model can be cleared for full operational tasks and deployed situations.
Four of New Zealand's eventual eight NH90s have now been delivered to its Ohakea air base, with the remainder expected to be delivered during the next year.