US Navy releases new directive for CH/MH-53E helicopter inspection
The US Navy has issued a new corrective action directive (AFB-346) to the CH-53E and MH-53E heavy-lift helicopter fleet community.
The guidance comes after the US Navy and Marine Corps leadership conducted a review board at Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to determine the effectiveness of mitigation measures in place, following the MH-53E mishap in Norfolk, Virginia, US in January last year.
The MH-53E was conducting a routine training exercise when the accident happened that resulted in the death of three sailors.
According to the Judge Advocate General Manual (JAGMAN) investigation, the crash occurred due to a fire in the upper left side wall of the crew cabin that filled the cabin and cockpit with smoke causing the aircrew to lose spatial awareness.
US Marine Corps heavy-lift helicopter programme manager colonel Hank Vanderborght said: "The safety of our crew members is forefront in my mind at all times.
"Having steps explicitly spelled out, supplemented with photos and soon, a video, will address any chafing issues during inspections. I am confident that this course of action will alleviate any concerns in the H-53 community."
AFB-346 provides step-by-step instructions for inspecting CH-53E and MH-53E helicopter cabin fuel and hydraulic tubes, as well as hoses and electrical wiring within 18in of those tubes and hoses, for chafing damage.
The previous guidance AFB-343 had referenced standard military maintenance manuals for the steps involved.
The MH-53E Sea Dragon variant is used for airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) operations and has been in service with the US Navy since 1986.
Image: An MH-53E Sea Dragon conducting a mine sweeping exercise. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.