Croatia's Air Force Commander Michael Krizanec on Thursday said that defects identified on four Mi-171Sh transport helicopters had been removed and that a fifth helicopter out of the ten 171Sh overhauled helicopters, which is now located on the island of Krk, would be repaired on Friday.
Addressing an extraordinary news conference, the general admitted that experts had identified defects on all the ten helicopters that had been overhauled in Russia.
“The defects on four helicopters have been removed and they are usable. The fifth will be repaired tomorrow. Another five helicopters are undergoing regular overhauls,” said Krizanec.
The rest of the fleet of transport helicopters are ready for all missions and training. So far we have conducted 1,100 flight hours and we did not have any indication of any hazard existing. Helicopters have been grounded before. Those checks are conducted every 300 flight hours and we only have 200 hours so far. If they had not warned us, we would have identified the defects ourselves,” Krizanec told the press conference in the Defence Ministry.
He added that the “Russian Helicopters” company had last night already admitted that it was their responsibility and that all the works and all the material would be charged to the company. Krizanec ordered that the 10 helicopters be grounded and told the press conference that that situation was not that alarming.
Last week, the defence ministry said that the overhaul of the helicopters concerned was performed in a professional manner by the Aeronautical Technical Centre (ZTC) in Velika Gorica and by the “Russian Helicopters” company from Russia.
The Dnevnik.hr news portal reported that 10 Mi-17Sh helicopters had been grounded due to frequent defects however Krizanec explained that the helicopters were not actually grounded but were undergoing regular technical checks and are out of use.
“Yesterday we were informed of a technical defect that went unnoticed during the overhaul. We contacted the Russian manufacturer and then made some conclusions and took the necessary steps,” Krizanec explained.