A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter performs a hover in-flight refueling test during sea trials aboard a Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-Class frigate in the North Atlantic. Photo courtesy of Sikorsky
Representatives from the Canadian Maritime Helicopter Project (CMHP) Combined Test Force accepted the Leonardo International Fellowship Award during AHS International's annual forum. The award was given to the two organizations for flight and shipboard operation demonstrations of the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter from a Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate.
The award cites successful expansion of the flight envelop to Sea State 6 conditions, where waves reached a height of six meters (20 feet) with winds up to 55 knots (100 km/hour or 63 mph), according to AHS International. The shipboard tests were part of a 10-year, 2,800-hour flight-test program that is expected to conclude in early 2019. The Royal Canadian Air Force will take delivery of the last of its 28 Sikorsky designed and built CH-148 Cyclone aircraft by 2021 to replace the CH-124 Sea King helicopter fleet, which retires this year.
Some of the key design features on the Cyclone that enabled this flight demonstration include the following:
- A retractable probe on the belly of the aircraft to more securely cinch the 29,300-lb. Cyclone to the ship's flight deck in high sea states.
- A ground support tool with an articulating arm that — with the recovery, assist, secure and traverse (RAST) system — allows the deck crew to remotely align the aircraft's nose prior to guiding the helicopter into the hangar.
A combined DND/Sikorsky aircrew also demonstrated utility of the aircraft's full authority fly-by-wire flight controls, which can hold the aircraft in a precise hover during high wind states.
Other tests included main rotor blade and tail pylon fold, hover-in-flight refuel, maintenance operations, torpedo loading and ship-to-ship replenishment. These operations also were demonstrated at night with and without night-vision goggles.