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German Navy delays NH90 Sea Lion flight operations

27 November 2019
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The German Navy will not begin flight operations with its new NH90 Sea Lion helicopter for the time being because it does not meet the necessary safety and quality standards, the Bundeswehr has announced. Source: IHS Markit/Nicholas Fiorenza

The German Navy will not begin flight operations with its new NH90 Sea Lion helicopter for the time being because it does not meet the necessary safety and quality standards, the Bundeswehr announced in a press release on 27 November.

"We are generally convinced of the capabilities of the NH90 Sea Lion helicopter," the Bundeswehr stated, "but because of inadequate and incomplete technical documentation, it would not be responsible at the present time for flight operations to be conducted by the women and men of the navy." The service has therefore decided not to begin training flights this year.

"The manufacturer has agreed to rectify the still significant errors in the documentation as quickly as possible," the Bundeswehr said. Airbus Helicopters told Jane's on 27 November, "The issues mentioned by the ministry have been known for some time and we are already working with all partners involved to fix them in a timely manner."

The Bundeswehr did not foresee the delay having any impact on the Sea Lion becoming fully operational in 2023, as planned, nor on the German Navy's ability to fulfil its tasks.

The service said the delivery of the first Sea Lion to the Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr (BAAINBw), Germany's Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support, on 24 October was necessary and made sense so as to be able to examine, along with the German Navy, if all requirements had been met so that flight operations could be started soon.

After the helicopter was transferred to its home base in Nordholz, northern Germany, the interactive electronic technical documentation for the system's operation, maintenance, and repair was used for maintenance and checked in detail, said the Bundeswehr, reporting that 150 major anomalies were found that would prevent safe flight operations.

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