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Australia’s five twin-rotor Chinook helicopters have been grounded because of a serious technical fault.
The Defence Department provided only scant details of “possible issues” with the CH-47 aircraft’s Advanced Flight Control System in “certain flight conditions”. The AFCS assists with the stability of the aircraft and helps the pilot to maintain control by reducing the workload and keeping the machine where the pilot wants it.
It is understood that the investigation of a Chinook crash in Afghanistan in late May, which claimed the life of army pilot Lieutenant Marcus Case, triggered possible concerns about the flight control system.The machine, designated Dark and Stormy, turned on its side before crashing into the ground during a familiarisation flight.
The AFCS is a vital piece of kit in inherently unstable aircraft such as the CH-47D Chinook.
Director-General of Army Aviation, Brigadier Neil Turton, said the flight suspension was to ensure the helicopters’ safety and that it was consistent with army operational airworthiness procedures. “The precautionary suspension will remain in place pending technical analysis of flight data by Defence and Boeing,” Brigadier Turton said.
The suspension applies to the two CH-47D Chinook aircraft deployed to Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Force operations.
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The Boeing Company and the U.S. Army celebrated the opening of the newly renovated CH-47 Chinook manufacturing facility last Wednesday, Sept.21. The event coincided with the 50th anniversary of the CH-47 Chinook’s first flight.
“Boeing has made a $130 million investment to create a world-leading aircraft manufacturing facility to support continuing U.S. and international demand for the unmatched vertical lift capabilities of the Chinook,” said Jean Chamberlin, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Ridley Township-based Mobility division.
Chamberlin said the upgraded facility will allow Boeing to increase production and work toward securing a second CH-47F multi-year contract.
The factory renovations will allow Boeing to increase Chinook production rates to six aircraft per month, up from the current rate of four per month. The modern facility offers enhanced employee safety and comfort, lower operating costs and reduced environmental impact. The new facility is one of three Boeing facilities recognized for zero waste contribution to landfill.
“The CH-47F is proving its exceptional capabilities every day in combat operations,” said U.S. Army Col. Bob Marion, project manager for Cargo Helicopters. “The technological advantages and improvements in the CH-47F are powerful combat multipliers that save soldiers’ lives and support overall contingency operations in theater.”
“ I am extremely proud of the Chinook team on this milestone 50-year achievement.”
Source: Aviation News
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The Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, has announced a contract award for 14 new Chinook helicopters, the RAF’s workhorse on the frontline in Afghanistan. The contract with Boeing to supply the Chinook heavy lift helicopters will bring a significant enhancement to the mobility of frontline forces. Already the largest fleet in Europe, this new contract will bring the UK’s overall number of Chinooks to 60.
This announcement follows the Government’s recent commitment to a one per cent a year real term increase in the MOD’s equipment and support budget from 2015. This new Chinook contract is valued at £1bn or $1.64 billion, including development, manufacture, and the first five years of support to the new Chinooks.
“From the Falkland Islands to Iraq and Afghanistan, the RAF has operated Chinooks magnificently for many years in the most demanding environments. These additional helicopters will significantly enhance our existing heavy lift helicopter capability. This fleet will support our frontline troops in current and future operations for decades to come,” The Secretary said.
The new Chinook Mark 6 helicopters will feature a cutting edge digital flight control system making them easier to operate in the most difficult conditions, including the hot and dusty environments such as those encountered in Afghanistan.
“Chinook is an exceptionally capable helicopter that in the hands of the very skilful RAF crews has proved itself time and again in many operational theatres across the globe and is the backbone of the Royal Air Force’s helicopter fleet,” Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton said.
The RAF will receive the first aircraft for initial trials and testing in 2013 and it will enter service in May 2014 making an immediate contribution to the flexibility of the UK Chinook capability. Delivery will be complete by the end of 2015.
Story and Photo: Royal Air Force