Tail Cracks on Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-148 Cyclone helicopters due to local stresses caused by ESM and Satcom Antenna

The Royal Canadian Air Force has determined that cracks that appeared in the tail booms of its CH-148 fleet were due to local stresses caused by the equipment installed there.

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has determined that cracks that appeared in the tail booms of its CH-148 fleet were due to local stresses caused by the equipment installed there, Alert 5 first noted.

In a statement on Jan. 31, 2022, Canada’s Department of National Defence said its technicians and Cyclone manufacturer, Sikorsky Aircraft, made an “initial determination” that equipment on the tail sections of the aircraft was too heavy to be supported in flight, thereby causing the cracking, CBC News reported.

It directed questions about the cracks to Sikorsky.

As we have previously reported, cracks were found in 21 of the 23 Cyclones with the first crack being found during routine maintenance of a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on Nov. 26, 2021.

The fleet was grounded while plans were made on how to proceed with repairs.

Sikorsky spokesperson John Dorrian told CBC News the cracks “are the result of local stresses caused by the electronic support measures and [satellite/communications] antenna mounts which were not previously anticipated.”

According to Dorrian the S-92 has not experienced the same cracking issues because it does not have the same electronic support measures and antenna mounts as the Cyclone.

Repairs on the Cyclones have been ongoing at 12 Wing Shearwater near Dartmouth, NS, with each aircraft’s cracking requiring a “unique solution,” said the Defence Department.

As of Jan. 28, 11 of the Cyclones had been repaired, with an additional four undergoing repairs.

The department also said in its statement the repairs are not a permanent fix.

The military is working with Sikorsky to establish a “final determination” of the cause of the cracks by the end of February before creating a permanent solution to the issue, Dorrian said.

“The long-term solution will take into account these load paths, mitigate the local stress at these interfaces and eliminate the cause of the cracking,” Dorrian said in an email.

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.

In 2020 six members of the Canadian military were killed when a Cyclone crashed in the waters off Greece because of a glitch with the autopilot function.

The Defence Department said in its statement the air force has a “robust flight safety culture” and it is not uncommon for issues to be found early in the life cycle of new aircraft, such as the Cyclones.

“There is no immediate safety hazard, and we have complete confidence in the immediate solution being implemented,” the department said.

“The fleet continues to be operational and will be monitored and tested on a regular basis in accordance with our airworthiness program.”

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada via Wikipedia

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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