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Airbus issues safety alert on Tiger helicopters flying in turbulence

Airbus Helicopters, citing observations from an investigation into the crash of one of its Tiger helicopters during a U.N. mission in Mali, has urged operators to keep environmental factors in mind when using auto pilot during turbulence.

The unit of European aerospace giant Airbus said its “alert service bulletin” should not be seen as an indication of the possible cause of the crash in July, which killed both crew members, but was intended to increase operators’ safety.

“Specifically, we want to standardise all flight manuals and remind operators that crews must adjust their attention to environmental conditions while using the auto pilot during turbulence,” the company said in the bulletin.


Airbus, which was brought into the Mali crash investigation in mid-August, said there were no parallels between that accident and the situation that caused the crash of an Airbus H225 helicopter in Norway in 2016, killing 13 people.

Norwegian investigators concluded in April that the 2016 crash was the result of metal fatigue in the aircraft’s gearbox.

German officials continue to investigate the cause of the crash in the Mali desert.

The German defence ministry, in a report last month, said the aircraft began to break up while in flight, losing its rotor, but said it was too early to speculate about the causes of the crash.

Officials say it could take months to complete the probe. At the time of the crash, they said there were no signs the helicopter was downed by an attack.

Germany’s deployment of four Tiger helicopters to Mali earlier this year was controversial since the aircraft required extra maintenance given the strong heat and other environmental conditions in the African country, although officials say the aircraft had been performing normally.

Germany agreed to deploy four of its then fleet of 27 Tiger helicopters and four NH-90 transport helicopters to Mali earlier this year after the Dutch military said it could not continue the work.


But Germany’s increased support was heavily debated in parliament, and required a waiver from the German military allowing the helicopters to operate in higher temperatures.