I wrote about three military helicopter crashes last month. The Bangkok Post today has a long piece on the current state of the Army’s chopper fleet. Summary is: 1) Most of the craft are old, with most of the Huey’s having been used by the US in Vietnam. 2) Little is spent on parts for maintenance, instead they canabilize craft to keep other flying. 3) The army estimates that 90 – 100 of their 240 helicopters are airworthy.
Why isn’t more money spent on maintenance, especially on a craft that almost always falls from the sky in an uncontrolled manner when a flight related malfunction occurs? Generals need new toys and need to skim from the budget. In 2008, 990 million bt ($34 million) was budgeted for maintenance on 15 of their 52 Bell 212 choppers. Instead, the Army bought 3 new Russian choppers. They’re the only 3 they own so as soon as maintenance is needed, one will be cannibalized.
The Post article quotes an Army spokesman saying the three crashes that left 17 dead had nothing to do with poor maintenance.