THE IRISH AIR Corps has temporarily suspended the use of six of the fleet’s helicopters after manufacturers issued a technical bulletin regarding the aircraft in response to a recent crash off the coast of Brazil.
The Defence Forces have six of the twin-engine AW 139 models affected by the notice, but says that the suspension will not affect the Air Corps’ air ambulance service. That service will be carried out by its Eurocopter EC 135 aircraft, which can also be fitted with the ‘Life-Port’ system to allow medical life support machine remain in use throughout .
The Air Corps said in a statement this evening that it adheres to all safety bulletins, directives and maintenance programmes for its aircraft.
Augusta Westland’s technical bulletin relates to tail rotor blades on its AB 139 and AW 139 models. The warning comes in the wake of a fatal crash of an AW 139 helicopter off the coast of Brazil on 19 August. Four people were killed. FlightGlobal reports that two crew members and two passengers were on board when the aircraft crashed shortly after departing a Petrobras oil rig.
An investigation into the cause of that crash is underway. Augusta Westland said that it was issuing the precautionary bulletin “as a result of the first available information of the AW 139 event in Brazil, while the investigation is ongoing and waiting for additional information/analysis”.