US Army returns most Chinook helicopters to service following grounding

U.S. Marines direct a chinook helicopter arriving to pick up a container with supplies at Forward Operating Base Edi in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan on June 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

The U.S. Army has returned nearly 6 in 10 of its Chinook helicopters to service as of Tuesday after grounding the fleet late last month due to fuel leaks.

Army spokesman Jason Waggoner said the Army now has 59.5 percent of the fleet available to support missions and training.

“Though the number could fluctuate day to day, this number continues to increase daily with ongoing logbook records review and a standard leak-check maintenance procedure outlined in an Aviation Safety Action Message published” Sept. 2, Waggoner said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

The Army grounded the fleet in August after fuel leaks caused a “small number” of engine fires among the helicopters, saying the military would take corrective steps to resume normal flight operations.

At the time, the Army said the problem affected an “isolated number” of the aircrafts, which reportedly total about 400, so some might not have needed any fix.

“While no deaths or injuries occurred, the Army temporarily grounded the H-47 fleet out of an abundance of caution,” an Army spokesperson said last month.

The Army describes the CH-47F, one of the Chinook’s latest iterations, as its only heavy-lift cargo helicopter supporting combat and other critical operations.

The aircraft has also been exported to the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Spain, according to the Army.

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