Defence has confirmed that the MRH 90 tactical troop transport helicopter encountered an issue relating to the starting and stopping of its rotors during recent first-of-class flight trials from HMAS Canberra.
A spokesperson for Defence told Australian Defence Business Review that the aircraft had been undertaking first-of-class trials aboard HMAS Canberra, the Navy’s first of two new LHD amphibous assault ships. The trials, conducted during March and April, were designed to test the limits required to develop the routine operating envelope for the helicopter in relation to the LHDs.
“Although the MRH 90 rotor head is performing to specification in most situations, an issue related to starting and stopping rotors under certain environmental conditions was encountered,” the spokesperson said. “The incident resulted in minor repairable damage to the main rotor head of the aircraft; there were no crew injuries.”
The MRH 90 is continuing to operate off other Royal Australian Navy ships while the matter is being investigated, the Defence spokesperson added.
The issue first came to light in a June 29 story in The Australian which claimed, citing sources, that the LHD design “served to accentuate wind conditions that affected the helicopter rotors at slow speed, making it difficult for pilots to quickly start and stop the rotors on deck”.