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More Asbestos Found In Sea King Helicopter

The Sea King helicopter was retired earlier this year.

The helicopter was retired earlier this year (Picture: MOD).

More asbestos has been found inside a Sea King helicopter, with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) admitting the supply chain had "not been purged of asbestos components".

Asbestos, a material used where resistance to heat or insulation was required, can cause a variety of chest conditions, including cancer, if an individual is exposed to it over a period of time, typically years. 

Earlier this year, a routine maintenance training activity on a Sea King revealed the presence of asbestos inside an exhaust panel seal.

A following investigation by the MOD showed that their supply chain had "not been purged of asbestos components", meaning "the risk remained that asbestos-containing components could still be fitted to Sea King aircraft".

The Sea King was used for search and rescue operations (Picture: MOD).
The Sea King was used for search and rescue operations (Picture: MOD).

Action has now been taken by the MOD to remove those components from the supply chain.

Inside the Sea King, Chrysotile (white) asbestos had initially been used in areas around the engine, gearboxes, heating and ventilation systems.

The MOD says these areas were "exposed to routine maintenance activity".

By 2006, the MOD says all major contaminated items had been replaced and remaining items were assessed as 'low risk', contained inside components that were not routinely disassembled. 

These were replaced with asbestos-free alternatives when routine maintenance allowed.

The first Sea King entered service in 1969 and was used by the Royal Navy and the RAF until it was retired in September 2018.