Airbus, Kongsberg Collaborate On NH90 Maintenance

Credit: Airbus/Anthony Pecchi

Airbus and Kongsberg of Norway have teamed up in a bid to improve the availability of the country’s troubled NH90 fleet. 

The memorandum of understanding agreed upon by Airbus, Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace and its Aviation Maintenance Service (KAMS) business aims to strengthen local maintenance capabilities and “optimize the availability of the NH90 helicopter,” Airbus stated Feb. 3.

Norway ordered 14 NH90s in 2001 for use by the country’s Coast Guard with the expectation they would be delivered by 2008, but more than 20 years since contract signing the fleet has yet to reach full operational capability, prompting the Norwegian Defense Materiel Agency to examine a potential lease of commercial helicopters to make up for shortfalls in NH90 availability. Audits of the procurement in 2018 stated that the fleet had struggled with a shortage of spares and maintenance needs were considerably higher than expected. 

To start with, Airbus is developing and qualifying Kongsberg’s facilities to provide deep maintenance of the NH90 tail gearboxes for the Norwegian fleet. Airbus is hoping the capabilities could enable Kongsberg to become a maintenance hub for the Scandinavian region as both Finland and Sweden also operate the NH90. “The move will position Kongsberg as prime contractor for this support contract and the first entity outside Airbus to be qualified for the work,” Airbus states. 

“This agreement is the beginning of an ambitious partnership with Kongsberg which will strengthen Norway’s autonomy and sovereign support capability in this specialized field,” says Damien Lamy, Airbus Helicopters’ regional director for industrial cooperation. 

KAMS has a similar arrangement with Leonardo Helicopters for maintenance services in support of Norway’s fleet of AW101 search-and-rescue helicopters. The company will provide maintenance for the AW101 at bases around the country between 2022 and 2026.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.