Army Grounds Entire Chinook Fleet, Citing Engine Fires

MCAS Hosts 160th

An MH-47 Chinook with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in 2019. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels.

U.S. Army MH-47 Chinooks with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) land at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 20, 2019. Soldiers from the 160th SOAR were conducting joint operations at MCAS Camp Pendleton. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

The Army grounded its entire fleet of CH-47 Chinooks — about 400 aircraft in all — citing a design flaw that created a potential for engine fires.

The twin-rotor Chinook is the Army’s primary heavy-lift helicopter for troops and materiel in virtually every combat zone the Army enters.

A small number of fires were caused by fuel leaks in a few of the helicopters’ T55 engines, according to the Army. Army spokesperson Cynthia Smith said an “abundance of caution” led the Army to ground the full fleet.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the grounding.

Chinook

U.S. Soldiers assigned to Echo Company, 3rd Battalion (General Support), 10th Aviation Regiment, prepare to sling load two 500 gallon fuel containers beneath a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in 2013. Army photo by Capt. Peter Smedberg.

Soldiers assigned to 3-10 appearing to steal 1,000 gallons of beer from the Navy. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Peter Smedberg

Chinooks have been in service with the Army since the 1960s, seeing combat in every conflict since. Their uses in the Army range from workhorse cargo transports as CH-47s to special operations assaults as MH-47s to high-altitude rescues in Alaska.

The T-55 engines are produced by Honeywell, which said in a statement that “in full coordination with the U.S. Army, Honeywell 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 Army did not provide a timeline for returning the Chinooks to the air.

The grounding comes just a week after the Air Force grounded its fleet of heavy-lift rotor-wing aircraft, the CV-22 Osprey, for an engine issue, though the Marines did not ground their fleet.

Read Next: The Gunships That Didn’t Shoot: 30 Hours Inside Two AC-130Js Over Kabul

Matt White is a senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a Pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism. He also teaches journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
More from Coffee or Die Magazine
A new Marine Corps physical training uniform will have shorter shorts than previous versions, but they won’t be as short as the long-banned, skin-tight, still-beloved “silkies.”
Not enough fuel, too many miles to go over open ocean, and the aircrew was flying into a spot they call the Black Hole.
During ferocious fighting in Anzio, Italy, Harold Nelson’s commander wrote to Nelson’s mother that he’d been put in for a Silver Star. Now 107, Nelson finally got it.
After a week of competition at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, four squads will travel to Washington, DC, for the last event of the Army-wide Best Squad competition — an interview panel with Pentagon leaders, including the sergeant major of the Army.
After more than seven months of full-scale warfare, Russian gas still flows through Ukraine to Europe each day.
A fleet of US Coast Guard and Army National Guard helicopters has descended on hurricane-ravaged Sanibel Island.
About one in five C-130s in the Air Force is out of service as older C-130Hs, which were first introduced in the 1970s, are grounded to have their propellers inspected.
The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford will spend at least one more day in Virginia.
Ford’s technological glitches included propulsion problems, hinky elevators, and gremlins in the catapults.
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War epic “Apocalypse Now” is one of the most recognizable war movies ever made, yet few fans are familiar with the insane story behind its production.