The Air Corps has temporarily suspended operations of its six Agusta Westland 139 helicopters as a precautionary measure in response to a technical bulletin issued by the company to all users of the aircraft.

Notification was received from Agusta Westland today in relation to an incident which occurred recently involving an AW139 aircraft in Brazil.

As a result of the incident, the company issued a technical bulletin in relation to the tail rotor blade of AW139 helicopters.

The Air Corps adheres to all service bulletins, airworthiness directives and on-going scheduled maintenance programmes for all aircraft in the fleet.

The temporary suspension of operations will be lifted when all aspects of the technical bulletin are resolved to the satisfaction of the Air Corps Military Aviation Authority.

The suspension will not affect the Air Ambulance function of the Air Corps, which will be carried out by Eurocopter EC-135 aircraft. Like the AW139, the EC-135 is capable of being fitted with a 'Life-Port' system, which allows medical life support systems to remain operational during flights.

AW139 aircraft have been in service with the Air Corps since November 2006 and have flown over 5,000 hours since becoming operational.

They are used for troop transport, aerial reconnaissance, air ambulance, and on tasks such as forest firefighting.