The maker of Australia’s problematic Tiger attack helicopters has issued a safety warning describing all versions of the aircraft as being in an “unsafe condition”.
The Airbus bulletin about the choppers which have cost Australia $1.5 billion to buy, was issued after a German operated variant crashed in Africa last month.
Blades falling of the German helicopter mid-flight have since been blamed as the possible cause of the crash that saw the aircraft plunge into the desert from a height of about 500m killing the two crew.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) which operates 22 of the Tigers last week said they had not imposed any restrictions on their fleet after the crash.
But the new bulletin from Airbus released on Friday may raise concerns about continuing to fly the two-seater choppers on operations.
The ADF is yet to respond to questions from The Australian asked on Saturday evening about whether any restrictions had come into force since the bulletin was issued.
The bulletin said “despite the missing information and considering a sudden failure, Airbus Helicopters (AH) declares a unsafe condition for all Tiger versions”.
“AH can neither identity the part, the failure of which would lead to the accident, nor the origin of the failure (design, manufacturing, maintenance). “Consequently, AH is not in a position to propose a protective measure.”
Australia’s fleet of Tiger helicopters which ran seven years late in reaching final operational capability, have been plagued with problems and are being considered for a mid-life upgrade that is estimated to cost between $500 million and $750 million. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Airbus Helicopters headquarters in Marignane, France, provided the following statement on Aug. 16: “Airbus Helicopters has been informed of this initial report. We stand ready to support the ongoing inquiry if requested by the authorities. At this time, we have no further comment.”)