A 22-centimeter-long crack discovered in a German Sea Lynx Mk88 helicopter has grounded 21 of the Navy’s 22-strong Sea Lynx fleet, according to the Defense Ministry.
The crack appeared on the hoist arm of a Sea Lynx onboard the frigate Lübeck, currently at sea, in the region of the tail rotor, a ministry spokesman said. As other Sea Lynx have shown a precondition for the same defect, the whole fleet will be checked.
Fifteen of the multipurpose military helicopters are therefore grounded while six were already in routine maintenance. One aircraft used for training flights has been allowed to keep flying to maintain crew practice.
The Bundeswehr is discussing with the helicopter’s producers, AgustaWestland and Airbus, how to permanently fix the defect. It will take until early 2015 until the Sea Lynx helicopters can return to operational flight, according to the ministry spokesman.
The grounding of the aircraft also affects German participation in the European anti-piracy mission Atalanta around the Horn of Africa because the German frigates usually operate two Sea Lynx helicopters. Therefore, the Lübeck is underway without any operational aircraft.
The spokesman said the international flotilla includes enough helicopters provided by warships from other countries, but they will have to provide support to the German Navy.