The South Korean Army has lifted the grounding of the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KAH-1 Surion helicopter that followed the fatal crash of a variant operated by the marines in July.
According to a report by official news agency Yonhap, the type re-commenced operations on 24 December.
“The resumption came days after a team of civilian, government and military experts cited defects in the rotor mast of the Marine helicopter as the cause of the crash…before the resumption, the army conducted detailed inspection of the chopper’s rotor mast and conducted test flights to ensure it has no operational problems.”
Footage of the 17 July crash shows the rotor mast and rotors completely detaching as the rotorcraft takes off. The crash killed five marines and injured one.
The Yonhap report says that 30% of the 90-strong fleet have undergone the necessary inspections.
The resumption follows KAI’s recent unveiling of its Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) at its factory in Sacheon. The 4.9t LAH will conduct ground tests in early 2019, with a first flight possibly in mid-2019.
The LAH is set to enter service in 2023, while its civilian variant, the Light Civil Helicopter, will enter service in 2021.
The Airbus Helicopters H155 forms the basis of the LCH/LAH family. This will help extend the life of the H155, which from 2018 will be superseded by the new H160.
The LAH will replace types such as the MD Helicopters MD500 and Bell AH-1J/S Cobra in service with the South Korean army.