Engineers who maintain Merlin helicopters have saved £12m with what they call ‘a simple fix’.
The Royal Navy say here that by replacing just one part – not an entire complex piece of machinery – they will save time and money across more than 50 front-line helicopters, vital to Royal Navy operations around the globe.
“One variant of the Merlin is the mainstay of submarine-hunting and airborne early-warning operations, operating from the decks all major Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, especially Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The other is crucial to supporting Royal Marines in the field, transporting commandos, equipment and casualties on the battlefield. According to the original maintenance guidance for the helicopters, written more than 20 years ago, the Merlins’ nose landing gear should be replaced when the aircraft undergoes maintenance after 3,500 hours in the skies.
The experienced team at RNAS Culdrose, home of the submarine-hunting and airborne surveillance model of the Merlin, the Mk2, questioned the need to replace the entire section: an expensive and demanding job. Each front set costs £230,000 in parts alone – but the engineers reckoned only one single pinion actually needed swapping.”
Captain Stuart Finn, Culdrose’s Commanding Officer, was quoted as saying:
“This is a first-rate example of how diligence, exceptional expertise and common sense have made a direct positive impact. They are to be commended for their innovative thinking. This ethos of empowerment, of taking responsibility and constructively challenging norms, is a cornerstone of what makes the Royal Navy global, modern and ready.”