Helicopters a ‘quantum leap' for New Zealand

  • Wayne Mapp

NH90 Production Line: Defence Minister Wayne Mapp inspects the NH-90 production line.
NH90 Cockpit: Defence Minister Wayne Mapp is briefed as company pilots prepare for a demonstration flight in an NH-90.

NH-90 helicopters will be a quantum leap forward for the Royal New Zealand Air Force when they start entering service next year, says Defence Minister Wayne Mapp.

Dr Mapp has just visited the NH-90 assembly plant in Marignane in the south of France on his way to the NATO/ISAF Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels. During the visit he flew in a representative production NH-90, and inspected New Zealand machines on the production line.

"The capabilities of this machine will be immense in comparison with our current Iroquois. Its speed, power and overall performance are in a different league. Particularly impressive is the sophistication of the flight systems," the Minister said. 

"The troops down the back will notice a big difference as well. This is the smoothest riding helicopter I have ever flown in. The ramp and big doors will make loading and unloading passengers and freight quick and easy."

Dr Mapp discussed the development programme at length with NHI officials.

"I am very confident that we will be able to access the full performance spectrum when we take delivery. Over 500 NH-90 helicopters have been ordered by 15 different countries. Forty-seven have now been delivered, and user feedback is being incorporated into machines on the production line. We will be getting a proven machine at the leading edge of military helicopter technology.

"Having now seen for myself, I am confident that NHI is settling the minor issues that have arisen as the helicopter comes into service elsewhere. There have also been some engine issues, but this engine is in widespread use on a number of helicopters and the manufacturer expects to resolve the present problems shortly," he said.