Germany Grounds Tiger Attack Helicopter Fleet

The German Army has grounded its fleet of Tiger attack helicopters after the manufacturer, Airbus, issued a warning regarding parts failure. The parts in question were titanium bolts in the primary rotor assembly that were found to be prone to fracture. Thankfully the issue was discovered before an accident occurred.

In 2017, a Germany Army Tiger suffered a fatal crash while on peacekeeping operations in Mali resulting in a 2-month grounding and investigation. Ultimately little came of the investigation and the accident was assumed to be related to flight control systems rather than mechanical failure.
Apparently, the titanium bolt in question is also a component on EC135 and NH90 which both serve the Germany military. However, unlike on Tiger, this part serves a non-critical role in which failure wouldn’t result in the loss of the aircraft. Thus the two helicopter types weren’t grounded. Notably, an EC135 was lost in a fatal accident on July 2nd of this year.

Tiger UH of the Bundeswehr. Photo: US Army (Sgt. Rick Frost)

The Tiger’s service history has been quite bumpy due to a number of manufacturing defects such as an instance experienced by Australian Tigers where an avionics power supply would burnout and fill the cockpit with fumes. Given their poor experience, Australia has expressed interest in replacing the platform early. In German service, the type has struggled with maintaining readiness, though this isn’t necessarily related to Tiger as many German systems suffer from this. In 2018, it was reported that on average only 11.6 of Germany’s 53 Tiger’s were operational at a given time. In comparison, the same report puts NH90 readiness at 17.5 out of 71 and CH-53 at an absolutely dismal 9 out of 71.