The Royal New Zealand Air Force paused flying of its NH90 medium utility helicopters for 48 hours from yesterday morning as it does a risk assessment after the crash of the Australian Army MRH90 Taipan helicopter.
CAPTION: Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters on Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023. Image supplied.
The crash happened in the Whitsundays, off Queensland, during Exercise Talisman Sabre last Friday night.
The MRH90 Taipan and NH90s are the same aircraft type.
Chief of the RNZAF Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark said the pause on flying of the eight New Zealand NH90 helicopters was a precautionary approach.
“The situation will be reassessed tomorrow [Thursday] morning,” Air Vice-Marshal Clark said.
“On Monday night the Australian Defence Force formally revised its position on their fleet of Taipan helicopters, going from an operational pause to a cessation of flying.
“While the RNZAF has no current reason to believe our NH90s are not safe to fly, as a precautionary approach we decided to pause our flying for 48 hours to carry out a risk assessment.
“At the end of that time, we will make a decision whether to resume flying or not.”
He said the operational pause was not a “grounding”, which was a formal declaration by regulators that an aircraft type cannot fly.
“While flying will be paused, if an in-extremis situation arose with a real and immediate risk to life that required the NH90s to respond, they may be flown.
“However, it would depend on the particular circumstances.”
The RNZAF’s eight NH90 helicopters are operated by No. 3 Squadron based at Ohakea in Manawatū.
Three of the helicopters are currently deployed on Exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia and were not involved in Friday’s incident.
“Our thoughts remain with our Australian colleagues during this tragic time,” Air Vice-Marshal Clark said.