Inquiry hears proof about MRH-90 fleet retirement after deadly crash

An Airbus official has revealed he was stunned to study the MRH-90 Taipan fleet was being retired early after it was concerned in a failed mission that left 4 Australian Military officers useless regardless of an investigation discovering the plane was protected to function.

Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock and Corporal Alexander Naggs have been killed when their Taipan ditched into the ocean south of Hamilton Island on July 28 final 12 months.

An impartial inquiry into the deadly incident, headed up by former decide Margaret McMurdo, continued on Thursday in Brisbane.

The plane, with the decision signal Bushman 83, was flying in formation with three different helicopters about 10pm to Lindeman Island in Queensland.

In the course of the deliberate coaching mission, the plane was seen climbing all of a sudden earlier than pitching nostril first in the direction of the water the place it crashed and splintered on impression.

Your entire Taipan fleet was retired early in September 2023 – 18 months earlier than its scheduled retirement.

On Thursday, the inquiry heard 75 per cent of the fleet has been dismantled because the July 2023 crash.

The Taipan’s upkeep historical past got here underneath the microscope on Thursday.

Airbus deeper upkeep supervisor Barry Trapp gave proof earlier than the inquiry about Airbus’ position in contracted upkeep of the Taipan fleet.

When requested by Ms McMurdo whether or not the ADF choice to retire the Taipan fleet early got here as a “shock” to Mr Trapp, the Airbus employee replied: “Sure, ma’am”.

The inquiry heard that NATO customers of the MRH90 – together with Australia – had been assured the plane was protected following an investigation after the July 2023 crash.

Mr Trapp advised the inquiry he didn’t know why the ADF made that call to retire the fleet earlier than schedule.

“I actually don’t have sufficient info to grasp what the scenario is apart from what I might have been advised as a part of the inquiry,” he mentioned.

The fleet had beforehand been grounded for inspection after one plane was pressured to ditch into the ocean at Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast in March 2023 – 4 months earlier than the North Queensland incident.

The Jervis Bay incident occurred whereas the military was participating in counter-terrorism workouts.

The inquiry was advised an investigation was carried out within the wake of the Jervis Bay incident to find out the reason for the crash.

It was decided the Jervis Bay incident was linked to a technical subject which had beforehand been flagged in a service discover issued by the unique gear producer to all operators of the Taipan globally.

Nonetheless, the inquiry heard conflicting proof that this specific service discover was issued in both 2016 or 2018 – a minimum of 5 years earlier than the Jervis Bay incident.

Mr Trapp mentioned the service discover had defined “rapid motion (required) was to vary out the engines”.

Mr Trapp mentioned the sixth Aviation Regiment – the place the 4 airmen have been stationed in Sydney – had their assigned Taipans fitted with modified engines in accordance of the service bulletin that detailed what wanted to be upgraded.

“I mentioned that they have been put in after the Jervis Bay ditching and all of the plane in sixth Aviation Regiment would have been modified by finish of March (to the) starting of July,” Mr Trapp mentioned, referring to his written assertion given to the inquiry.

Commanding Officer of the Rotary Wing Upkeep College, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Watling, gave additional perception into the service bulletin.

He advised the inquiry these service bulletins would point out whether or not the discover was “pressing” and if the present product was “unsafe”.

Lieutenant Colonel Watling mentioned the sooner service bulletin had indicated the difficulty – which induced the Jervis Bay incident – was marked “pressing” however was not marked as “unsafe”.

The inquiry continues on Friday.

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