Sydney: Australia has grounded its Black Hawk helicopter fleet after an army aircraft experienced engine trouble while flying in Papua New Guinea, it was confirmed Wednesday.
"I can confirm that as a precaution all flying tasks that have been deemed to be non-essential by the Army have been suspended," an Australian Defence Force spokesman said.
The move was taken after a helicopter was forced to make a precautionary landing at Kokoda yesterday after experiencing difficulties during a reconnaissance mission.
The four crew and four passengers on board the helicopter, which was preparing for today`s Anzac Day events involving top army officials and WWII veterans, were unhurt in the incident.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith and other officials are in Papua New Guinea for Anzac Day ceremonies which mark the anniversary of the ill-fated WWI landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at Gallipoli.
In a statement in January, the Australian Defence Force said it operated 34 Black Hawk aircrafts. Of that fleet, three were deployed to East Timor, with the remaining helicopters based in Australia.