The Army identified the cause of the engine fires as a fuel leak among an “isolated number” of Boeing H-47 Chinook helicopters, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said, adding that the service is taking steps to fix the issue. No injuries or deaths occurred as a result of the fuel leaks or engine fires, Smith said.
Even so, the Army temporarily grounded the fleet of approximately 400 Chinooks “out of an abundance of caution,” Smith said. The Army’s workhorse helicopter, which has been in service since the 1960s, will be grounded until the corrective steps are complete.
“The safety of our Soldiers is the Army’s top priority, and we will ensure our aircraft remain safe and airworthy,” Smith said.
Boeing referred CNN to the US Army for comment.
The Chinook, with its unique tandem rotor configuration, is the Army’s only heavy-lift cargo helicopter supporting combat and other critical operations, according to the service. The Chinook has gone through multiple upgrades and improvements throughout its operational history.
The CH-47F, one of the latest versions of the Chinook, has a maximum payload of approximately 25,000 pounds, according to the Army. It has been exported to several countries around the world, including the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Australia.