For more than two months, none of the German combat helicopters of the Tiger type were in the air as part of the MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali).
Now, a successful inspection flight has taken place, and from October 4 the helicopters will be able to resume operations for the United Nations.
After the crash of a Tiger helicopter on 26 July 2017 in Mali, flight operations can now be resumed under certain conditions. This recommendation is based on the latest findings of the ongoing investigations. In the accident, both pilots were killed.
All the more important now was the implementation of the requirements, which required a comprehensive technical transparency and intensive preparation in the last few days. In summary, there are restrictions on speed, coupled with weight limits and the use of the autopilot.
Green light to take off
First, the engines are started and so-called "ground checks" are carried out. After a few minutes, the systems give green light. The technicians then checked the functions of the complex aircraft one last time.
At 9:10 am local, the time has come. With loud rotors and under the attentive gaze of the ground crew, the helicopters roll along the Camp Castor taxiway. Thumbs up, the pilot behind the cockpit disc signals his chief mechanic.
On the edge of the field, Lieutenant-Colonel R. observes the scene. "Today is an important and a good day for the army pilots," says the 45-year-old officer, who took over as commander of the mixed Army Aviation detachment in Mali just a few days ago. "My women and men have worked with conviction, a lot of effort and commitment to reach this moment."
The Tiger kicks up a lot of dust as it rolls to the exit of the camp in front of the hangars housing the NH90 helicopters. The detachment personnel have now gathered to watch along the runway outside the camp. Everyone wants to see the launch of the combat helicopter. In the near future, the Tigers will again operate as "Air Weapons Team" in the airspace of Northern Mali.
After an hour or so the aircraft has returned. The work and follow-up of the ground staff is in full swing. The operational flight operation for the United Nations can now be resumed.
It has not been decided when the Tiger detachment at Camp Castor will again count four helicopters. Commander Oberstleutnant R. describes the replacement of the crashed tiger as an important step: "We can hardly wait for it." Now the helicopters of the Tiger type are ready again and the mission flight for the UN nations is resumed.