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Helicopter Rotor Blades

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) the life expectancy of rotor blades in European conditions and (b) the average life expectancy in Iraq and Kuwait of each type of helicopter deployed in Operation Telic is; and if he will make a statement on the comparative lift capability of the fleets in such conditions. [111826]

Main rotor blades typically have a long life expectancy, which in many cases is reflected in a fatigue life which exceeds that of the rotorcraft. Main rotor blades do, however, have a Mean Time Between Replacement (MTBR) which is shown by rotorcraft type in the following table. These figures represent a mean across all usage, and are not separated by environmental conditions (data on this are not held). Usually, main rotor blades that are replaced are repaired and returned to service.

RotorcraftMTBR of main rotor blades

(flying hours)
Chinook Mk 2/2a1,600
Puma994
Sea King Mk 4/7986
Lynx Mk 3/7/8/91,366
Gazelle279
Merlin Mk 1Unknown due to insufficient use
Lift capability is determined by a number of factors. These include engine performance, which will be affected by high temperatures, and correspondingly lower air density, encountered in desert regions such as parts of Iraq. Post operational reporting will provide analysis and an assessment of equipment deployed on operations in Iraq. It would, therefore, be premature to provide a detailed assessment of the performance of equipment and any effect on operational use at this stage.