The Australian Defence Force’s fleet of 47 Airbus/NHI MRH 90 Taipan helicopters has apparently returned to flight following a grounding of nearly two months.
ADBR first noticed two MRH 90s on an ADS-B flight tracking app flying north of the Army’s training base at Oakey in Queensland on July 22. Over the next week, additional Taipans were spotted near Oakey, southwest of the Army’s main operating base of Townsville and, on July 29, two Holsworthy-based aircraft operating over northwest Sydney and south of Wollongong.
Despite this activity, an official query sent to Defence Media on July 23 – and two subsequent follow-ups – about the status of the MRH 90 fleet have gone unanswered.
Defence says the fleet was grounded “as a precaution” in late May due to safety concerns with the fleet’s maintenance IT records. A Defence spokesman told ADBR on July 16 that, “the issue relates to the application of the helicopter’s maintenance policy in the helicopter’s IT support system. Work continues to end this suspension as soon as possible.”
It is unclear if these flights signify a return to service for the fleet of 41 Army and six Navy MRH 90s, or whether they are test, maintenance, or currency flights. Regardless, it is good to see the capability is back in the air, albeit likely too late to participate in Exercise Talisman Saber which wraps up this week.