Cracks were found on the tails of the majority of the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force.
On November 26, 2021, cracks were found on a first helicopter during a routine inspection at the base of the 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron in Patricia Bay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A review of the whole fleet ensued in the following week, which found out that 19 of the 23 Cyclones were affected, according to the Canadian Press. Another two were found unaffected, and the last two are currently undergoing longer-term maintenance.
“The Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-148 fleet is not immobilized or on operational hiatus,” said the Department of National Defence in an emailed statement. “The fleet is facing a technical problem that affects most, but not all, maritime helicopters.”
Repair work, in coordination with Sikorsky, should last a week. Though the helicopters were not grounded, their participation into Operation Lentus, which was implemented to assist flood victims in British Columbia, was interrupted.
In 2004, the Royal Canadian Air Force ordered a batch of 28 CH-148 Cyclone helicopters, a tailored variant of the Sikorsky H-92 Superhawk. Specially adapted for maritime search and rescue missions and submarine warfare, they replaced the Canadian CH-124 Sea Kings. The Cyclone entered service in 2018, a decade behind schedule. The last helicopter is expected to be delivered in December 2021.
A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter operating from the HMCS Fredericton frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy crashed in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece during a NATO area surveillance operation in April 2020. Six people were killed. An investigation found that the crash was due to an untimely input of the aircraft electronic flight control system as it was attempting to return to its ship.