Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 13 seconds.
Inaccurate airspeed readings caused the delay in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of the U.S. Air Force’s new MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopter that forced a pause in funding for the service’s Huey replacement.
The Air Force’s fiscal year 2022 budget request to Congress contained no funding for the MH-139, built by Leonardo Helicopters in Philadelphia and militarized by prime contractor Boeing in the same city. Based on Leonardo’s AW139, the MH-139 will replace the fleet of 63 UH-1N Hueys the Air Force uses to guard nuclear missile fields in the Midwest and for VIP missions in and around Washington, D.C.
Carlos Rodgers, secretary for budget for the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management, said during a budget rollout press conference in May that the service is “deferring the procurement of the MH-139 until ’23 . . . due to a FAA certification issue that we have experienced.”
Boeing says the issue was caused by inaccurate readings from an airspeed sensor and that the problem has been resolved by tweaking an adjacent fairing.
“When performing certain maneuvers during joint development test of the MH-139 configuration, pilots discovered inaccurate readings by one of the airspeed sensors,” a Boeing spokesperson told Vertical in an email. “The approved solution was making an adjustment to a nearby fairing that solved the problem. The team has worked hard to implement this solution quickly and safely, in alignment with the Air Force, and we’re currently continuing to validate the solution with the FAA through the test program.”