Design flaw identified as Canada repairs half of its Cyclone helicopters

Sebastian Arciszewski/

Half of the Canadian Army’s CH-148 Cyclone helicopters have been repaired after cracks were discovered in the tail boom on most of the fleet. The defect was attributed to a design flaw. 

On November 26, 2021, cracks were found on the 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 was conducted during the following week, which found that 21 out of the 23 Cyclones were affected. 

Following reviews by Canadian military technicians and US manufacturer Sikorsky, the cracks were traced back to stresses caused by the equipment installed on the tail, namely the electronic warfare suite and satellite communications antenna. 

According to the Canadian Department of National Defense, 11 helicopters have been fixed, and an additional four are still undergoing repairs. 

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. 

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