Nuri Upgrade Update

RMAF Nuri S61A4 M23-36 at the fly-past rehearsal on Feb 26, 2016. The 36 is likely to be airworthy again after undergoing repairs after a hard landing some six months after the picture was taken.

SHAH ALAM: IT appears that the Nuri upgrade program has started based on the press release posted at the bottom of this post. The first helicopter to undergo the modification is expected to be displayed at LIMA 17, so it is likely work on the example has started or starting soon.

The work on the first Nuri will be done by Airod together with Heli-One, a Canadian based helicopter MRO at its facilities at Subang while the avionics will be supplied by Universal Avionics, a company from Arizona, US.

The modification involved the installation of new cockpit displays including a new flight management system and a search radar.

RMAF Nuri S61A4 M23-36 at the fly-past rehearsal on Feb 26, 2016. The 36 is the only Nuri which has undergone the digital cockpit upgrade.
RMAF Nuri S61A4 M23-36 at the fly-past rehearsal on Feb 26, 2016. The 36 is the only Nuri which has undergone the digital cockpit upgrade.

To recap, National Defence Aerospace Industries Sdn Bhd (NADI), the parent company of Airod, was awarded a letter of instruction for proof of concept for the avionics upgrade programme for Nuri helicopters at the DSA 2016 in April.

Following the award, Airod signed a contract with Heli-One, one of the largest independent MRO for helicopters. According to the release issued after the signing ceremony between the two companies, the upgrades will allow the Nuri to fly for another 15 years.

The upgrade will add new tactical capabilities and allow for standardisation of aircraft systems across the fleet. It will enable the aircraft to fly in day and night under all weather conditions as well as addressing obsolescence issues, subsequently, allowing the RMAF S61A-4 NURI helicopter to expand its life-span for at least another 15 years.

Rockwell Collins Pro-line cockpit install on a S-61. This was the solution chosen for the M23-36,
Rockwell Collins Pro-line cockpit install on a S-61. This was the solution chosen for the M23-36,

I was told last June that the work to upgrade the Nuri will start before year end after RMAF had agreed to the scope of work to be done. So the announcement of the avionics solution, got nothing to do with the recent emergency landing of M23-33 on a school near Tawau recently.

A PUTD Nuri helicopter carrying an Oto Melara 105mm pack howitzer for the firing exercise.
A PUTD Nuri helicopter carrying an Oto Melara 105mm pack howitzer for the 2016 army firing exercise.

The release below is basically the confirmation of the start of the programme though it conveniently left out Malaysia as the operator of the Nuri helicopter.

The release:

TUCSON, Ariz, OCT 11: Universal Avionics and Heli-One are announcing cockpit upgrades to be performed on a fleet of Sikorsky S-61A-4 NURI helicopters for an Asian operator, featuring Universal’s EFI-890H Advanced Flight Displays and Multi-Missions Management System (MMMS). Universal Avionics Authorized Dealer, Heli-One, is set to perform the design and installation for the initial aircraft with an Asian Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) organization performing the upgrades for the remainder of the fleet.

The S-61 upgrade includes four EFI-890H Advanced Flight Displays and a single UNS-1Lw MMMS, Universal’s Flight Management System (FMS) for mission support. The displays and MMMS integrate with new dual LCR-100 Attitude Heading Reference System sensors, dual Thommen AC-32 Air Data Computers, dual Rockwell Collins NAV-4000s, DF-938 Direction Finder, a single DME-4000 and a new EuroAvionics EuroNav 7 Mission Computer. In addition, a new RDR-1600 Search Radar is being fitted and will be displayed on the EFI-890H Multi-Function Displays. The displays are Night Vision Goggle-compatible and also integrate with the existing AN/APN-209 Radar Altimeters and GE SN-502 Autopilot.

One of the displays to be install on the Nuri by Heli-One.
One of the displays to be install on the Nuri by Heli-One.

“This program is the latest in our ongoing partnership with Heli-One,” said Grady Dees, Universal Avionics Director of Technical Sales. “Heli-One has proven its expertise in complex integrations throughout our relationship and in leveraging the integration flexibility of the EFI-890H and FMS/MMMS. Together, we will be able to offer the best solution yet for modernization of the avionics in the S-61 platform. Future enhancements to provide additional functionality are already in planning at Universal Avionics.”

“Universal Avionics has been a key partner in our recent success with our flight deck upgrade initiatives,” said Anthony DiNota, President, Heli-One. “The collaborative work between Heli-One and Universal has yielded terrific results for customers. Our solutions-focused, customer-based approach allows us to provide tailored programs that expand operational capability and add value to their aircraft.”

The new and modernized flight deck enables the aircraft to fly in all weather conditions and both day and night, by leveraging new functionality including Night Vision Imaging System operations. The MMMS provides a significant improvement in search and rescue operations with the built-in search patterns and will be coupled with the GE SN-502 Autopilot. In addition, the upgrade allows for significant extension of the aircrafts’ lifespans. The design and first aircraft installation for the S-61 is expected to be completed in time for the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in March 2017.

One of the digital camoed Nuri handed over to the Army at LIMA 15.
One of the digital camoed Nuri handed over to the Army at LIMA 15.

For those who had forgotten about it, a single RMAF Nuri had already been upgraded with a similar modifications several years back. The project went cold after work on the aircraft was completed however.

Nuri M23-18 of 7th Squadron on TDY at Tawau.
Nuri M23-18 of 7th Squadron on TDY at Tawau.

Apparently, Airod had difficulties working with the company selected by RMAF for the project, another Canadian based helicopter MRO, Vector Aerospace. The relationship between Airod and Vector became untenable after the latter was acquired by Eurocopter in 2011.

As for the sole Nuri fitted with the digital cockpit, M23-36, its now at Subang airbase most likely undergoing repairs. The helicopter had a hard landing on Aug. 13 at Bukit Beruntung, Selangor, after it lost power while taking off from a field at the police training centre there.

Nuri M23-15 landing at Jugra on Nov 11, 2013. The aircraft was written off after a crash at Pulau Perak on Dec. 22. 2013.
Nuri M23-15 landing at Jugra on Nov 11, 2013. The aircraft was written off after a crash at Pulau Perak on Dec. 22. 2013.

Its left landing gear, buckled up as the helicopter landed back on the field. All of the crew members survived without injuries.

* edited. The earlier version of this post stated that the upgrade work will be done in Norway. This is wrong, the work will be done at the Airod hangar at Subang airbase.

— Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

Share
About Marhalim Abas 1177 Articles
Shah Alam

21 Comments

  1. Those these mean that the next order of ec725 or h225m for rmaf will be delayed further?

    Reply
    I guess you have not read the earlier posts on this…

  2. How’s the nuri upgrade gonna solve the accident problem? That doesn’t make sense.

    Reply
    Who said it would solve accidents? It wont, its just gonna make it more servicable.

  3. Talon – ”How’s the nuri upgrade gonna solve the accident problem? That doesn’t make sense.”

    In the first place, do you know what the ” accident problems” are caused by?

    The upgrade – among other things – will provide the Nuri with a better all weather/night capability in IFR.

    kamal,

    As Marhalim has made cleat, there are unresolved technical issues with the Cougar. Why buy pre-used helis when our Nuris – despite their age – still have a lot of unused hours left on their airframes?

    Heli- One had previously fitted 6 auto hover systems to 6 Nuris.

  4. If i may ask, what is the total no of ec725 needed by TUDM and TDM in order to retire all the nuris

    Reply
    No idea on TDM but AFAIK TUDM wants 12 EC725s

  5. slightly off topic but what os the status of PDRM AW139?

    Reply
    No idea, at least one is already at the Leonardo hangar at Subang and is flying sometimes.

  6. Shalelalela,

    It’s believed that in the 2007/2008 period the RMAF registered a long term requirement for more than 50 Cougars with the Finance Ministry agreeing to only 27 of which 12 would be bought under the
    9th Malaysia Plan and 15 in the subsequent 10th Malaysia Plan.

    At one time Eurocopter was proposing the Cougar to fulfill a RMAF requirement for a CSAR platform but following the Nuri crash in Genting Sempah priority then shifted to getting a new platform to complement and eventually replace the Nuri. If the RMAF had its way, the Nuris would have been handed over to the army much sooner. The RMAF would then have been able to focus on CSAR and special forces insertion. A key problem here is that the army wasn’t ready for the Nuris back then; didn’t have the needed infrastructure.

    The RMAF still has a requirement for a follow on 12 Cougars but there is no certainty when funding will be allocated and whether current issues with the Cougar might see the RMAF looking at other options. Some might – as was done previously – propose Mil-17s [we came close years ago] but this option is dead for a number of reasons. Similarly, the RMAF does not want pre-used because pre-used [despite being cheaper to procure] can lead to its own set of – expensive and troublesome – issues later. Having ruled out Russian and pre used it will be interesting to see whether we ever get additional Cougars.

    Reply
    If the Army got its way, it will not accept the Nuris…

  7. The lifespan of a helicopter is simply amazing.

    Exactly how much flying does the average Nuri do annually? The current Nuri fleet is shouldering the load of a fleet originally twice as large.

    Reply
    They do not fly too much actually, the ones being given to the Army had been put in storage for the last decade or so.

  8. It’s a surprise to me, that a force our size has such modest demand for helicopters and we acquired such a large force initially. I presume at the time our perceptions were shaped by confrontation and the emergency, we had to achieve the rapid deployment of light forces, and we had much less in the way of extensive and reliable roads. Our formations are also heavier now and there is a limit to what can be supplied by air.

    Recall a politician saying the Nuris were acquired in small numbers as and when cash became available. Is anyone aware of the schedule?

    I found this 2015 article:

    “In a statement by the Malaysian Army, it stated that the Nuri helicopters, which started its service in the RMAF from 1967, were involved in troop deployment and medical evacuation, as well as search and rescue operations.

    The 48-year-old choppers which recorded an average of just 14,000 flight hours compared to other countries which have used it over 60,000 flight hours, are still able to serve for another 15 years.”

    Reply
    Actually the way we bought the Nuri – multi year purchase – is the right way for us in view of the limited annual procurement budget. But of course currently we prefer to buy them in bulk. However due to the current budget squeeze it is how we are paying for the AV8 and LCS. There was no schedule or any announcement on the Nuri multi year buy as everything about defence during that era is Rahsia Besar or Top Secret.

  9. A total of 42 were ordered in 2 batches for about USD1 million each. The first order was made in 1967 and the first Nuri arrived at Port Klang in 1970. Yes, it’s surprising that our Nuris still have lots of hours left given the frequency in which we flew them. I know of a AQM who use to do 2-3 sorties per day when things were hot; especially when operations were mounted. Even when there were no operations, Nuri were busy flying daily keeping troops supplied [also police units] and other stuff such as medevac; as well as non military stuff. In 1976 we even flew them to Java for an exercise. Following the end of the 2nd Emergency the numbers of hours flown dropped drastically so I suppose that accounts for the many hours the Nuris still have on their airframes. Unlike in the past mercy flights now are also conducted by army, RMN and MMEA assets.

    The things we did with our Nuris is a testimony to how well Sikorsky made them. It’s also a tribute to the aircrews – they had to fly in bad conditions [without NVGs, without a weather radar [these only came in the 1980’s and in aircraft that were not IFR rated], to small landing zones in the jungle, over rough terrain and often under fire to support troops in the field.

  10. “The first order was made in 1976 and the first Nuri arrived at Port Klang in 1970….”

    Is it 1966 or 1976?

    If Army have their way,maybe Black Hawk they want,another proven product of Sikorsky.

    Reply
    It’s a typo I think. Its 1967 when it was bought, first delivery 1970. I had fixed it. Probably S92 or even Chinook

  11. 1976 and 1968.

    It’s good we’ve finally signed for an upgrade. The RMAF has been pushing for one for a long time. Even now after so much has been written about the Nuri some are still under the mistaken impression that it should have been retired a long time ago due to age or that many mishaps happened because of the Nuris age.

    Had we bought the S-92 Sikorsky would have offered to buy back our Nuris. Finding a buyer wouldn’t have been a problem as there are keen takers for S-61s which have lots of hours left. The army would have wanted something like the Blackhawk to perform lift and other duties for which – in most cases – a Chinook would be too large. An argument can be made that instead of getting the A-109s ]for which the army has some issues with, one of them being that the A-109 is not robust enough and has a landing gear that is prone to damage] a small batch of medium lift helicopters should have been bought instead. But I suppose when the A-109s were ordered the army was not quite sure what it wanted to do, aviation wise [a lot was dependent on the direction the RMAF wanted to take rotary wise] and that A-109s would have had a smaller support/logistical footprint [an important consideration given the limited support infrastructure] compared to a larger platform.

  12. 1976 and 1968.

    It’s good we’ve finally signed for an upgrade. The RMAF has been pushing for one for a long time. Even now after so much has been written about the Nuri some are still under the mistaken impression that it should have been retired a long time ago due to age or that many mishaps happened because of the Nuris age.

    Had we bought the S-92 Sikorsky would have offered to buy back our Nuris. Finding a buyer wouldn’t have been a problem as there are keen takers for S-61s which have lots of hours left. The army would have wanted something like the Blackhawk to perform lift and other duties for which – in most cases – a Chinook would be too large. An argument can be made that instead of getting the A-109s ]for which the army has some issues with, one of them being that the A-109 is not robust enough and has a landing gear that is prone to damage] a small batch of medium lift helicopters should have been bought instead. But I suppose when the A-109s were ordered the army was not quite sure what it wanted to do, aviation wise [a lot was dependent on the direction the RMAF wanted to take rotary wise] and that A-109s would have had a smaller support/logistical footprint [an important consideration given the limited support infrastructure] compared to a larger platform.

  13. My exschoolmate died in a nuri crash due to poor visibility, those days pilots have to rely on visual without radars

  14. “one of them being that the A-109 is not robust enough and has a landing gear that is prone to damage”

    Maybe some trading can be done. The police can take over the A-109s, the air force can get more Cougars and the army can take over more Nuris.

  15. Sea King is in between Seahawk and Lynx in length, but is significantly heavier than both.

    Our ships can probably take the Sea King landing but not sure if it can be stowed.

    Reply
    The Nuri can land on Lekiu, I was onboard her when a VIP Nuri landed on the helideck, in the late 90s. It then flew away and returned later to pick-up, the VIP, the King then.

  16. On the Kasturis, the size of the deck requires the Nuri to land at an angle to offset the smaller deck. No RMN ship has a hangar large enough to accommodate a Nuri.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.