SHAH ALAM: Upgraded Nuri in flight testing. In my post on the Nuri upgrade on October 14, 2016, I wrongly stated that the upgrade work on the Nuri will be done in Norway. In fact, the work was and being done locally, at the Airod hangar located inside the Subang airbase and next to it’s flightline.
The hangar was previously used by SME Aviation to build the Aerotiga trainer aircraft. Following the end of the program, Airod had repurposed it as the MRO facility for the Nuri and AW109 of the Army Aviation Air Wing (PUTD). Previously, these helicopters were maintained in one of the hangars in the main Airod complex next to the Subang airport.
Work to upgrade the Nuri – M23-37 – started in the last quarter of 2016, under the auspices of the Letter of Instruction for proof of concept for the avionics upgrade programme for Nuri helicopters, awarded at the DSA 2016 in April 2016
The modification for the first aircraft involved the installation of new cockpit displays including a new flight management system and a search radar. Work on the aircraft apparently has been completed and the helicopter is currently undergoing flight tests as seen from some of the pictures here.
If all goes well, the helicopter is expected to be handed over to the RMAF at LIMA 17. And if RMAF is satisfied and funds are available, Airod could be awarded the contract to install similar modifications on all of the Nuri in its fleet and probably those under the Army Air Wing as well.
According to Airod, the modifications 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 address obsolescence issues, subsequently, allow the RMAF S61A-4 NURI helicopter to expand its lifespan for at least another 15 years
As for the other Nuri helicopter fitted with a digital cockpit -M23-36 – it is still undergoing repairs at the Subang airbase. The helicopter had a hard landing on Aug. 13, 2016, at Bukit Beruntung, Selangor, after it lost power while taking off from a field at the police training centre there. The aircraft was fitted with a digital cockpit from another vendor – Vector Aerospace – at the same hangar as the Nuri with the tail number 37.
Meanwhile, most of the RMAF EC725 Cougar fleet is currently undergoing its three-year inspection, it was revealed during a visit to the Airbus Helicopters facility in Subang on March 10. As the helicopters were delivered in small batches within a short period of time – November 2012 to early 2014 – their three-year inspection period came almost simultaneously since late last year.
The mandatory three-year inspection takes a minimum of two months hence it is a crunch time for the BHIC Aeroservices Sdn Bhd, the company contracted for the Cougar MRO. BHIC Aeroservices is a joint-venture between BHIC Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of public listed Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd, Prestige Pillar Sdn Bhd and Airbus Helicopters Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
During the visit to Airbus Helicopters, journalists were allowed into BHIC Aeroservices hangar to see the Cougars undergoing their servicing. However, no photography was allowed at the hangar. We were told that some of the Cougars undergoing servicing are expected to be available for duties very soon.
Meanwhile, the fifth EC120B for Pulatibang 2 has been delivered to Airbus Helicopters to be fitted with a glass cockpit. The upgrading work on the aircraft is expected to take two months. Once delivered, Pulatibang 2 will have all of its five EC120Bs for flight training which is leased from Gading Kasturi Sdn Bhd. The fourth EC120B for Pulatibang 2 was delivered recently. For more on the Colibiris go here and here
At the same hangar, an AS355N Ecureuil 2 helicopter of the Police Air Wing was also undergoing final checks. The helicopter – 9M-PHG – was damaged in a hard landing near Kuching on July 6, 2010, although the crew escaped with minor injuries.
Following a survey, it was decided the aircraft could be rebuild although it was already had seen service for two decades. It has been seven years since the hard landing and only now the helicopter is about ready to return to service. As usual, the wheels of bureaucracy takes a long time to get moving.
* updated throughout for clarity.
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