The Dutch Ministry of Defence has decided to ask for explanations on the corrosion damages detected on some of the NH90 models. In a letter sent by Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert to the Dutch Parliament, she officially asked to put off the deliveries of seven NFH NH90 helicopters ordered by the Armed Forces of the Netherlands.
The halt, pointed out the Minister, should remain until the manufacturer finds ‘an appropriate solution to the corrosion problems detected on the first models of the NH90, and until we reach an agreement on the reimbursement of the additional repairing costs.’
NHI: ‘FLIGHT SAFETY OF THE NH90 HAS NEVER BEEN AT STAKE’
The NHI well knows the corrosion issues of the NH90 helicopters, and is currently working to find a definitive solution. Besides, it has also shared the details with its clients, including the Dutch ones. During the last ILA Berlin Air Show, the executives of the consortium pointed out that they had already taken precautionary and corrective actions, also considering the possibility of redesigning some elements of the NFH version.
‘As in all newest aircrafts, at the beginning of its operative career, the NH90 helicopter had some issues – told NHIndustries in an official statement-. After the first maritime operations, the main problem was connected to the corrosion of some metal parts exposed to the sea (although the NH90 is less exposed than other helicopters), considering that the structure was made entirely of compound materials.’
However, the consortium announced that the safety of the helicopter is unquestionable. Furthermore, all corrosion issues were detected only on the first delivered aircrafts. NHI has, therefore, confirmed having drawn several precautionary and corrective solutions to the problems linked to a prolonged use of the embarkable NH90 helicopters. Such solutions have already been applied to all of the models that are currently being produced and used.
A ROADMAP TO SOLVE THE NH90’S PROBLEM
In the next months –as already announced by the NAHEMA (NATO Helicopter Management Agency, formed by the representatives of the armed forces of the nations interested in purchasing the NH90 helicopter) – a decisive roadmap should be traced to put an end to the corrosion issues of one of the greatest helicopters of the international military industry.
NH90, CORROSION SYMPTOMS ON THE HELICOPTERS USED IN THE CARIBBEAN AND SOMALIA
The first corrosion symptoms were detected in 2013 on the helicopters operating in the Caribbean Sea and in the coastlines of Somalia. In both cases, the helicopters had been in service for five months. After each mission, clarified the Dutch Ministry of Defence, they were carefully cleaned (the blades of rotor and tail being extended, while in other cases the wing tips would have remained folded).
THE ANALYSIS OF THE DUTCH NATIONAL AEROSPACE LABORATORY
In May 2014, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory published the findings of a number of researchers on the corrosion issues. The study, required by the Dutch Ministry of Defence, identified 92 different cases, deciding that the structure of the helicopter made it possible for water to collect in certain points; besides, the protective and insulating coatings designed by NHIndustries to prevent galvanic corrosion had been improperly used.
The Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory shared its findings with the NATO helicopter Management Agency, which advised the consortium to provide the Dutch Air Forces with a corrosion prevention program.