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Flight limitations eased on RNZAF choppers

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/05/2017
A crew member looks out an observation window aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion. © Reuters/Richard Polden A crew member looks out an observation window aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion.

Flight limitations placed on the RNZAF's NH90 helicopters after an incident in mid-April have been eased, the NZ Defence Force says.

The twin-engined aircraft have been held back from flying over water, at night and over mountainous terrain since April 20.

The restrictions came four days after one of the RNZAF's eight NH90s developed single-engine failure and made an emergency landing on a private Marlborough airstrip.

The Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies, says there have been detailed investigations since then.

"We have approached this in a prudent and measured way, with safety being of paramount importance," he said in a statement on Monday.

"We know now how the aircraft performed with one engine and we are working with the aircraft engine manufacturer to clarify the initial causes of the engine failure."

He said the investigations have given confidence the aircraft could be operated safely after a similar engine failure.

"Therefore we have returned to normal flying operations, except where the aircraft is operating at its upper weight limits, and plan to return to full operations as soon as the engine manufacturer has determined the reasons for the initial failure," he said.

Since the limitations were put in place, the helicopters had continued to fly for training purposes around their home base of Ohakea and had been prepared to fly urgent tasks.

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