Tony Capaccio and John Harney
WASHINGTON — The US Army has grounded its entire fleet of some 400 CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters after engine fires broke out on a few of them, a spokeswoman for the service said Tuesday evening.
“The Army has identified the root cause of fuel leaks that caused a small number of engine fires among an isolated number of H-47 helicopters, and is implementing corrective measures to resolve this issue,” the spokeswoman, Cynthia Smith said in a statement.
She added that there had been no deaths or injuries but that the Chinooks would be grounded “out of an abundance of caution until those corrective actions are complete.” The statement did not say how long the Chinooks might be out of service.
The iconic twin-engine aircraft, an Army workhorse for six decades, is manufactured by the Boeing Co. and its engines are made by Honeywell International Inc.
The Army’s decision was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.
Boeing referred questions to the Army. Honeywell said in a statement that, working with the Army, it had “helped discover that O-rings not meeting Honeywell design specifications had been installed in some T55 engines during routine and scheduled maintenance at an Army depot.”
The company added that the “Army and Honeywell were able to validate that none of the questionable O-rings originated or were part of any Honeywell production or Honeywell-overhauled engines.”
The Chinook’s primary mission, according to a Boeing web page, is the “transport of troops, artillery, equipment, and fuel.” Honeywell said it is in use by 22 countries.
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