Canada’s fleet of Sea Kings took an "operational pause" in early February based on a study from manufacturer Sikorsky that found significant components of the aircraft’s main rotor head may have a lower service life than thought.
The helicopters stopped flying missions from Feb. 1 through 5. Only those missions determined essential were flown, according to Robin Alford of the 1st Canadian Air Div. in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During that period, there were no emergencies that required the search-and-rescue Sea Kings to fly, he said.
Three major components were evaluated, per Sikorsky’s memo, said Alford. The swash plate that transfers power from the transmission to the rotor system; the servo-trunnion that connects the servos to the swash plate, and the sealed servo-housing assembly.
Alford said all 27 Sea Kings in the Canadian fleet, including three in the Pacific and two in the Atlantic, were inspected. Parts that needed to be replaced have been ordered and Alford said Sea Kings began returning to flight status on Feb. 3.
The Canadian SAR fleet also flies the AgustaWestland EH101, which has suffered cracking of the tail rotor. That forced the replacement of the tail rotors. Alford said a fix was found for that and the parts were replaced.
The Sea King is scheduled to be replaced in service by the CH-148 Cyclone, a variant of Sikorsky Aircraft’s military version of the S-92, by 2009.