Maritime Helicopter Project Team wins Vertical Flight Society award

Cyclone on HMCS Halifax
Cyclone on HMCS Halifax during SHOL trials. Photo: DND/CAF

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The CH-148 Combined Test Force (CTF) within the Maritime Helicopter Project (MHP) received the Vertical Flight Society’s (VFS) Leonardo International Fellowship Award in May.

The CH-148 CTF earned the award in recognition of their collaborative efforts to define Ship-Helicopter Operating Limitations (SHOL) for the CH-148 Cyclone operating off Halifax-class Modernized (HCM) Frigates.

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  • Award ceremony during the Vertical Flight Society Forum

This collaboration included a number of organizations within the Department of National Defence (DND)/Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and from Sikorsky’s management and engineering teams. The test team, which consisted of both Royal Canadian Air Force and Sikorsky test pilots, Airborne Combat System Operators, and Flight Test Engineers, conducted SHOL trials in North Atlantic waters in cooperation with multiple Royal Canadian Navy vessels. The trials lasted through five winter seasons between 2010 and 2017.

The team spent a total of 193 days at sea and flew 270 hours. They performed more than 975 landings – day, night-aided and night-unaided ­– in sea conditions up to six-metre waves (sea state 6). In addition to take-off and landing, many other key functions of a maritime helicopter were tested, including: securing/traversing, vertical replenishment, hoisting, helicopter in-flight refuelling, and instrument recovery to the ship in low visibility. The test team also evaluated how the unique full-authority fly-by-wire capabilities of the CH-148, which significantly reduce pilot workload.

The CH-148 Cyclone will replace the CH-124 Sea King, due to retire within the next year. DND has received a total of 15 Cyclone helicopters so far, with more deliveries scheduled throughout the year.

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