RAF Chinook makes rare visit to Bologna airport, Italy

The stopover may be due to technical issues

RAF Chinook helicopter Italy
RAF Chinook HC5 parked at the arrivals terminal of Bologna airport, Northern Italy.

A Royal Air Force Chinook tandem-rotor helicopter, serial number ZH504, made a stopover yesterday at Bologna International Airport, Northern Italy. It was an unexpected visit as it is very rare to see military aircraft there, especially from foreign armed forces. The Bologna airport is for civilian use only and is not connected to any military facility.

The large 10-ton helicopter was parked in the arrivals area, next to airliners.

The reason for the visit is not known, however, the activities carried out by the British military personnel made us think of a technical issue. Some of them were inspecting the front rotor motor, while others were working on the rear landing gear. In addition, two wheels and some wooden crates were unloaded from the rear loading ramp which most likely contained spare parts or tools.

RAF Chinook helicopter Italy

The Chinook seen in Bologna belongs to the HC5 variant. The Royal Air Force took delivery of the first Chinook helicopters upgraded to the HC5 standard in 2017. Under the Ministry of Defense's Project Julius initiative, the RAF's legacy HC2 and HC3 fleet received a modernized cockpit, including a digital automated flight control system and moving map displays, bringing them in line with the new HC6 aircraft. The HC5 variant also boasts a self-protection system that is fixed in the fuselage under the engine exhausts (in our photo it is covered by a tarp).

The type plays a crucial role in the RAF fleet. It is mainly used for trooping, resupply and battlefield casuality evacuation (casevac). It can carry up to 55 troops or up to approx 10 tonnes of mixed cargo, including vehicles. 

Text and Pics: Matteo Sanzani

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