Around 400 Australian aerospace workers are facing redundancy following the early retirement of a fleet of MRH-90 Taipan helicopters, the head of the European manufacturer said.
- The Taipan manufacturer says the aircraft’s early retirement will have an immediate impact on aerospace support workers.
- Australian Defense says it is working with industrial partners to support them in this transition
- Defense Minister Richard Marles says first replacement Black Hawks have arrived
Defense Minister Richard Marles confirmed on Friday that these military helicopters would not resume flight operations before their planned retirement date in December 2024.
The move comes after one of the Taipans crashed during a military training exercise in Queensland’s Whitsundays, killing four servicemen.
NHIndustries (NHI) President Axel Aloccio said support networks would no longer be needed following the withdrawal of the fleet.
“The immediate concern is supporting the approximately 400 Australian aerospace workers who will be impacted by this decision as we organize to support the Australian fleet until the end of next year,” he said.
“With this decision to bring forward the withdrawal of the NH90 by one year, this will immediately impact the 400 workers who will be made redundant.”
An Australian Department of Defense spokesperson said: “The MRH-90 Taipan workforce is highly skilled and defense is working with industry partners to ensure they are supported during the capability transition period. »
Meanwhile, Mr Aloccio dismissed concerns that the decision to stop flying the helicopters was linked to a safety issue following the accident in the Whitsundays.
“At this stage of the investigation, no particular technical problem has been identified and we do not believe that the safety of the NH90 is at stake,” he said.
Australia’s decision to stop flying Taipans is the latest setback for Europe’s NH90 program after Norway and Sweden announced plans to cancel their purchases.
Australia’s investigation into the Taipan crash in July is expected to last until 2024.
“Today’s announcement in no way presupposes or suggests the outcome of the investigations into this tragic incident,” Marles said on Friday.
“The MRH-90 has been an important capability for our country and our defense forces, and I recognize the hard work of the hundreds of people who have dedicated themselves to acquiring, operating and maintaining the ‘plane.
“Since we were due to retire the aircraft at the end of next year anyway, there is now no world in which we could fly the Taipans again.”
The Taipan fleet has been grounded several times due to malfunctions in the past, including after an incident in March this year when 10 ADF personnel were forced into the water at Jervis Bay, New Zealand. -South Wales.
Mr. Marles said Friday that the first of 40 Black Hawks that would replace the Taipans had arrived.
Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News on Friday the coalition supported the acquisition and transition to the Black Hawks.