Naval Air Squadron helicopter lands at Shoreham

The Merlin was grounded at Shoreham Airport PICTURE: EDDIE MITCHELL
The Merlin was grounded at Shoreham Airport PICTURE: EDDIE MITCHELL
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A £34million Naval Air helicopter landed at Shoreham Airport on Tuesday afternoon after developing engine problems.

The Merlin helicopter developed engine vibration problems in the air, so the pilot agreed a landing at Shoreham, arriving at 2.26pm.

Shoreham firefighters were called as back-up for the airport’s own fire service, which escorted the crew to the helicopter on the airfield.

A West Sussex Fire and Rescue spokesman said the helicopter had landed safely. The Shoreham crew was escorted to the aircraft at 2.40pm. The firefighters were told the pilot was assessing the situation and he soon decided an engineer was needed, so the helicopter was grounded.

The Shoreham crew left it in the hands of the airport’s fire service at 2.51pm.

The Merlin helicopter is currently in transition from the Support Helicopter Force to the Commando Helicopter Force. The Royal Air Force handed over the Merlin to the Royal Navy at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire in October.

The 846 Naval Air Squadron will remain at RAF Benson until spring, when Merlins will be moved to Somerset.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford said: “I have been truly impressed with the manner in which both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force have worked together in order to tackle the significant challenge of transition, and I know that we will continue to work equally well together in the future.”