19 out of the 23 Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-148 Cyclone helicopters grounded due to tail cracks

19 out of the 23 Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-148 Cyclone helicopters grounded due to tail cracks

By Dario Leone
Dec 9 2021
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Most of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Maritime fleet of CH-148 Cyclone helicopters are undergoing repairs after cracks were found in the tails of the aircraft.

Most of the Royal Canadian Air Force‘s Maritime fleet of CH-148 Cyclone helicopters are undergoing repairs after cracks were found in the tails of the aircraft.

“12 Wing Shearwater, which encompasses the entire fleet, is prioritizing the order of repair to maximize return to serviceability for each aircraft,” according to a Department of National Defence statement to CBC News on Dec. 4, 2021.

Cracks were found in three more CH-148s after they were found on one of the Sikorsky-made helicopters during routine maintenance on Nov. 26, 2021.

After CBC News requested clarification on the number of helicopters affected and where they were based, the RCAF replied that, in fact, 19 out of the 23 CH-148 aircraft were found to have the cracking problem. Two were found to have no cracking and the remaining two are in long-term maintenance and have not yet been inspected.

For “reasons of operational security,” the department declined to say how recently two unaffected aircraft entered service or where they are located.

While 17 of the aircraft are based in Nova Scotia and six in Pat Bay, B.C., to support the Royal Canadian Navy’s Pacific fleet, while the entire fleet is encompassed within 12 Wing Shearwater.

Sikorsky is working with the RCAF to make repairs, according to the department. Experts belonging to the service estimate that the repairs to some of the aircraft will be completed in “the next few days.”

The issue with the Cyclones has had some impact on flood-relief operations in B.C., where helicopters from 443 Squadron, operating from their base at Patricia Bay, were supposed to provide support, the statement said. It said other air assets have been able to fill the gap instead.

Sikorsky and Canada’s Department of National Defence, lead a team that has designed, built and configured the CH-148 Cyclone for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), maritime search and rescue (SAR), overland operations and utility missions.

Based on the Sikorsky S-92, as Canada’s first true intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) helicopter, the fly-by-wire Cyclone is equipped with a fully integrated mission system, modern sensors and a multi-mission cabin — providing a quantum leap in maritime helicopter capability.

Entry into service with the Royal Canadian Air Force occurred mid-2018 aboard one of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigates.

Full operational capability of the fleet is scheduled in 2022.

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada via Wikipedia

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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