Robinson R44 helicopters have returned to the air in Australia and New Zealand after a temporary grounding of the type following concerns over cracked rotor blades.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority grounded all R44s on the Australian register fitted with C016-7 main rotor blades on Feb. 21, but lifted the grounding three days later following the release by the manufacturer of a safety alert recommending new visual inspections. Some 485 R44s are on the Australian register, with a significant number fitted with the C016-7 main rotor blade. New Zealand also imposed a temporary grounding of its R44 fleet but lifted it with the release of Robinson’s safety alert.
The grounding followed an incident in New Zealand involving a cracked blade earlier this year. A subsequent fatal accident, near Queenstown in New Zealand, was initially suspected to involve cracked blades, but the investigation found the blades were a result of impact damage rather than the cause.
Operators of R44s are now required to carry out a visual inspection of the main rotor blades before every flight for signs of damage.