Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles has ordered a full investigation into the crash of an MRH90 military helicopter on Friday night, saying there is no longer any hope of finding the four crew members alive.
(Bloomberg) — Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles has ordered a full investigation into the crash of an MRH90 military helicopter on Friday night, saying there is no longer any hope of finding the four crew members alive.
The Australian army helicopter crashed into waters off the northeast coastline shortly after 10.30 p.m., sparking a search-and-rescue operation. Military exercises with the US were temporarily suspended following the disaster.
“Significant” wreckage from the helicopter has been discovered that shows evidence of a “catastrophic incident,” Marles, who is also deputy prime minister, told reporters in Canberra on Monday. The mission is now one of “recovery,” he said.
“There will be a full investigation and we will come to understand exactly what happened and learn the lessons from it,” Marles said.
The incident isn’t the first for Australia’s MRH90 Taipans, which are due to be replaced by US-designed Black Hawk helicopters by the end of 2024. The entire fleet was grounded in March after an MRH90 ditched in waters off the state of New South Wales during a routine training exercise. No one was seriously injured.
Questions have been raised about why the craft was allowed to return to service after that earlier incident.
“These helicopters were certified to fly,” Marles said. However, he added that following Friday’s crash, the fleet of MRH90s has been grounded and “won’t fly again until we understand what has happened.”
The helicopter crashed during Operation Talisman Sabre exercises being held off the Australia’s northern coast from late July until early August. The military drills largely resumed on Sunday.
–With assistance from Angus Whitley.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.