Army has temporarily suspended flying operations for the CH-47D Chinook helicopter upon identifying possible issues relating to the operation of the aircraft’s Advanced Flight Control System (AFCS) in certain flight conditions.
Director General Aviation, Brigadier Neil Turton said the suspension was to ensure safety and is 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 precautionary suspension includes the two CH-47D Chinook aircraft deployed to Afghanistan in support of ISAF operations. The two aircraft are based at Kandahar Air Field and perform combat and logistic support missions, and quick response tasks.
ISAF is currently well supported by both military and contracted rotary wing assets. Centralization of aviation assets into the US Combat Aviation Brigades allows greater redundancy, synchronization of maintenance and improved mission planning. Australia’s Rotary Wing Group is part of the US 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.
“The grounding of the aircraft is not expected to have an impact on the conduct of operations.
Military operations staff will offset the loss of capability and re-adjust schedules and support arrangements to ensure that rotary wing assets are prioritised in accordance with mission requirements,” Brigadier Turton said.
The Australian Army operates five CH-47D Chinook aircraft. Of the five aircraft, two aircraft are deployed to Afghanistan, one is deployed to Papua New Guinea; one is on Horn Island; and the remaining aircraft is in Townsville where the Chinook fleet is based.