Aussies Ground Blackhawks

From Australian Defence Media Operations:

Precautionary suspension of Black Hawk flying operations

Army has temporarily suspended flying operations for the Black Hawk helicopters upon identifying a number of fractured bolts during a routine maintenance check.

Acting Director General Aviation, Colonel Stephen Evans said the suspension, which commenced on 19 January, was to ensure safety and is consistent with Army Operational Airworthiness procedures.

“The precautionary suspension will remain in place to allow an investigation into the cause of the fracture to be completed,” Colonel Evans said.

Three Army Black Hawks are assigned to Joint Task Force 631 in Timor Leste. Emergency aero-medical evacuations for International Stabilisation Force personnel in Timor Leste remain authorised during the temporary suspension.

The Navy Seahawk helicopters differ significantly to the Black Hawk in the affected area, and Seahawk flying operations have not been suspended.

UPDATE (24 Jan 2012): The suspension has been lifted:

The engineering investigation indicated that the defective bolts were confined to a single manufacturer’s batch and were not a fleet wide issue. The defective batch of bolts has been quarantined from use.

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