Most RCAF Cyclone helicopters undergoing repairs after cracks discovered

Nova Scotia

RCAF Sikorsky Cyclone helicopters are undergoing repairs after routine maintenance identified cracks in the tails of four of the aircraft.

The Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone, a militarized version of the S-92 helicopter, is shown at 12 Wing Shearwater, near Halifax.(Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Most of the Royal Canadian Air Force's fleet of CH-148 Cyclone helicopters are undergoing repairs after cracks were found in the tails of some of the aircraft.

"12 Wing Shearwater, which encompasses the entire fleet, is prioritizing the order of repair to maximize return to serviceability for each aircraft," said a Department of National Defence statement to CBC News on Saturday.

After the cracks were found on one of the Sikorsky-made helicopters during routine maintenance on Nov. 26, other aircraft at the squadron were inspected and cracks were found in three, according to the statement.

A special inspection of the fleet was completed this week, the statement said, and Sikorsky is working with the RCAF to make repairs.

RCAF experts estimate that the repairs will be completed in "the next few days."

The issue with the Cyclones has had some impact on flood-relief operations in British Columbia, where the helicopters were supposed to provide support, the statement said. It said other air assets have been able to fill the gap.

The CH-148 Cyclone, based on the Sikorsky S-92 civilian helicopter, has been the subject of scrutiny in the past over the procurement process and cost, as well as manufacturing and software issues.

In April 2020, six crew members on board a CH-148 died when their aircraft plunged into the Ionian Sea off Greece as it was returning to HMCS Fredericton after a flypast.

CBC News has requested clarification on the total size of the CH-148 fleet.

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