Lieuwe de Vries for Veenstra & de Vries Aviation Publishing
According to manufacturer NHIndustries the problems with the NH-90 helicopter have been solved, the company’s technicians are currently applying the fixes. In an interview with FlightGlobal NHIndustries states it is using new materials to rectify corrosion issues.
A special coating which repels water from the fuselage and plastic inserts between corrosion sensitive metals are among the solutions used. Many of the solutions seem to follow the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory’s (NLR) advice as outlined in its May report regarding the stalled helicopter project.
Though the solutions outlined would fix many of the design errors with the helicopters they would do little to solve production errors found by the NLR. Solving these issues would require AgustaWestland, the manufacturing company, to resolve quality control issues in its production proces and the Dutch Ministry of Defence to play a more active controlling role in the proces.
NHIndustries is currently in talks to restart deliveries of the helicopter, however solving the corrosion issues was never the only problem. A perhaps bigger issue is who will pay the costs of these fixes and for additional use of the RNLAF’s Cougar fleet. The matter of these costs will have to be resolved before any further deliveries can be completed. A clearer agreement on how to handle future issues financially would be needed to prevent even further delays.
When deliveries of Australian MRH-90’s (a version of the NH-90 adapted to Australian specifications) fell behind schedule, NHIndustries ended up delivering an extra helicopter as compensation. This might be an option worth considering for Dutch defence minister Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert.