Aug 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Army grounds Chinook helicopter fleet after "small number of engine fires"

Photo of a Chinook helicopter flying in the sky

The CH-47 Chinook, the world's largest firefighting helicopter, can drop 3,000 gallons of water or retardant in a single pass. Photo: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The U.S. Army grounded its entire Chinook helicopter fleet on Tuesday "out of an abundance of caution" after fuel leaks caused a "small number of engine fires" among several of the aircraft, Army spokesperson Cynthia Smith said.

Driving the news: The helicopters, which primarily serve to transport troops, artillery, equipment and fuel, will remain temporarily grounded while the Army works to resolve the issue, according to Smith. No deaths or injuries were reported.

  • "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," Smith said in a statement.
  • "Based on the results of our investigation some aircraft may not require corrective measures and may soon return to normal flight operations," Smith added. It's unclear how long that will take.
  • "The safety of our Soldiers is the Army’s top priority, and we will ensure our aircraft remain safe and airworthy."
  • The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

The big picture: The Army operates roughly 400 Chinook helicopters, per Reuters. They're often used in humanitarian disaster-relief operations and serve 19 countries' armed forces around the world, according to planemaker Boeing.

  • A Boeing spokesperson declined to comment and referred Axios to the Army.
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