NL Gazette

Most Royal Canadian Air Force cyclone helicopters will be repaired after a crack is found.

Takeaway Keys:

  • DND “prioritization” of repair sequences to bring the aircraft back into service as soon as possible.
  • Almost the entire fleet of Royal Canadian Air Force CH148 cyclone helicopters is currently under repair after a crack was found in the tail of the aircraft.

“The 12 Wing Shea Water, including the entire fleet, is prioritizing repair orders to maximize maintain ability recovery for each aircraft,” said Department of National Defence statement on Saturday.

According to a statement, after a crack was found in one of the Sikorsky helicopters during regular maintenance on November 26, additional aircraft belonging to the squadron were inspected and three more were found. 

On Sunday, CBC News asked for an explanation of the number and location of the affected helicopters.

The RCAF responded that, in fact, 19 of its 23 CH148 aircraft had cracking problems. Two have no cracks and the other two are under long-term maintenance and have not been tested. 

The team declined to answer how long or where the two unaffected planes had been in service for “operational safety reasons”.

Though the whole fleet was part of 12 Wing Shearwaters, 17 of these were based in Nova Scotia and 6 at Pat Bay, British Columbia, in support of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Pacific Fleet. 

Sikorsky is working with the RCAF on repairs, according to the ministry. RCAF experts believe that repairs to some of the planes will be completed in the “next few days.”

Impact on British Columbia’s relief operations 

The statement said the issue with Cyclones has affected relief operations in British Columbia, where helicopters from 443Squadron, operating from their base in Patricia Bay, are expected to assist. , the statement said.

 Instead, he said, other aviation properties have been able to fill the void. No one from the Department of National Defence could comment on Sunday. CH148 Cyclone, based on the civilian Sikorsky S92 helicopter, has previously come under intense scrutiny for procurement processes and costs, as well as manufacturing and software issues.

This aircraft took more than a decade to become operational and its cost has been reduced from an initial budget of $3.2 billion to $5.7 billion. 

In April 2020, six crew members aboard CH148 were killed when their plane fell into the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece while returning to HMCS Fredericton after an air slide.

In March 2009, a Sikorsky S92 operated by Cougar Helicopters lost oil pressure and crashed in icy waters off Newfoundland, killing 17 passengers and crew.

Read More: Most RCAF Cyclone helicopters undergoing repairs after cracks discovered | CBC News

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