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Aussie defence MRH-90 engine failure + grounding

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Aussie defence MRH-90 engine failure + grounding

Old 18th May 2010, 21:56
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Aussie defence MRH-90 engine failure + grounding

New defence $4 billion chopper fleet fails

* By Ian McPhedran
* From: The Daily Telegraph
* May 18, 2010 10:56PM

A NEW $4 billion fleet of European-built helicopters destined for the army and navy has been grounded after a serious mechanical failure.

One of the first 11 of the MRH-90 Eurocopters experienced engine failure on a training flight 30 minutes northeast of Adelaide on April 20.

Despite 40 of the machines entering service with the army and six with the navy, the Defence Department kept the decision to ground the aircraft secret for 28 days - to avoid the sort of embarrassment caused by the cancellation of a $1 billion navy helicopter contract.

Because no one was hurt and the twin-engined machine flew safely back to its base at Edinburgh, near Adelaide, on its other engine, the incident was not rated as "serious".

However, the engine problem is so significant that the fleet has been grounded indefinitely and Defence has been forced to own up.

"It is a serious issue that is now affecting the project," a Defence source said last night.

Eurocopter's Australian arm Australian Aerospace is also bidding to provide an extra 24 of the machines for the navy under a $2 billion project.

It is understood the engine, built by Rolls Royce Turbomeca, suffered a catastrophic failure in its compressor.

Engineers have arrived in Adelaide from Europe to try to pinpoint the cause of the failure.

"We don't know what has caused it but we want to get it back in the air quickly. However, we won't resume flying until there is a true understanding of the cause," a source said.

Defence helicopter experts are investigating whether any other NH-90 machines flying in Europe, or British Apache attack helicopters that use the same engine, have suffered any similar failures.
New defence $4 billion chopper fleet fails
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Old 19th May 2010, 04:21
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That's not good. First the uncontained LPT failure on the Merlin and now this at the other end. Glad they were able to RTB on the one that was still turnin' & burnin'.

I/C
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Old 19th May 2010, 07:45
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$4 billion for 40 helicopters, that must have made the maths easy for the boffins at Defence. $100 million per aircraft, sounds like a bargain
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Old 19th May 2010, 09:36
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Another whisper is that when the catastrophic failure of the compressor happened, the fly-by-wire's multiple computers all fell off line for a period of time, and the aircraft was out of control and headed rapidly downwards.
When the system came back on line, they were able to recover and fly home, but a serious question must be asked - why should an engine failure result in an out-of-control helicopter?
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Old 19th May 2010, 12:09
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Sounds like a fairy tale. Only the Aussie ac are grounded, if what you said was true the whole fleet would be down.
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Old 19th May 2010, 12:19
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Wow

Did the stricken NH90 narrowly miss a school during this catastrophic event?
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Old 21st May 2010, 08:58
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Talking Rumour Mongering

Gentlemen

To put some of the meat on the bones....

Each MRH90 costs $38 million. The cost of the whole project - 46 MRH90, sustainment, role equipment etc is what costs $4.3bn.

The engine failure led to a deviation from the flight path (yaw, roll etc) as you might expect - nothing to do with the Flight Control Computers. The aircraft was moving along at around 150 kts TAS with high power set, so the violent motion experienced at the point of failure, although a surprise, was in keeping with basic P of F theory.
The aircraft auto-pilot performed exactly as briefed - it did exactly what it says on the tin!
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Old 22nd May 2010, 03:24
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Smile Fairy tail?

From Fleebag: "Sounds like a fairy tale. Only the Aussie ac are grounded, if what you said was true the whole fleet would be down. "

Perhaps the other operators dont have all the info the Aussie fleet has.

Lucasgap: you sound well informed. Were you flying it?

Any way you look at it such a failure in a new engine is not good, I wonder how many others have failed.
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Old 22nd May 2010, 04:31
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New engine confidence

Trophy
Generally the worst times for an engine are when it's new and unproven and when it's old and worn-out. Nothing exceptional about a new engine wrapping its hand in although these days it's unusual not to say disappointing. When it goes bang like that I bet it called for new underwear all round.

In the days when our Queen had her own dedicated fleet of aircraft a newly arrived aircraft would be fitted with engines that had been run-in somewhere else and their mid-life spent flying the Royals before being sent to see out its days in a less important part of the Air Force.

Of course we need to understand the failure mode before we start chucking rocks.

G
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Old 23rd May 2010, 11:31
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compressor failure?

Does anyone know if the compressor failure was a contained event?

Last edited by Ogsplash; 24th May 2010 at 09:35.
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Old 4th Aug 2010, 23:58
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Talking Broke another one.

A little red birdy told me that one has been sitting in Mackay for 4 days now U/S, did the army forget to train their engineers?????
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