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Officials release initial report on CH-148 Cyclone accident

Department of National Defence Press Release | June 8, 2020

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 33 seconds.

The Canadian Department of National Defence’s Airworthiness Investigative Authority has issued its From the Investigator (FTI) report in relation to the accident involving a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. The helicopter was deployed on HMCS Fredericton under Operation Reassurance when it crashed into the Ionian Sea. All six occupants of the helicopter were fatally injured.

According to the initial report, the CH-148 Cyclone had attempted a complex maneuver to position itself for approach to the HMCS Fredericton, though the aircraft did not respond as the crew expected. This occurred at a low-altitude, putting the helicopter in an unrecoverable position. RCAF Photo

The FTI report is a brief summary of the circumstances and factual information known at this time. It does not provide full details surrounding the accident, which is still under investigation.

At this point, the investigation has determined the aircraft was returning from a routine surface reconnaissance mission followed by additional training (flight deck evolutions) for aircrew proficiency prior to landing on HMCS Fredericton. The helicopter had flown by the port side of the ship, from stern to bow, before making a left hand turn to establish a downwind leg in preparation for approach to the ship. The aircraft then commenced a final left turn to set-up for the approach. During this final complex maneuvering turn to close with the ship, the aircraft did not respond as the crew would have anticipated. This event occurred at a low altitude, was unrecoverable, and the aircraft entered a high energy descent and impacted the water astern the ship.

The investigation is ongoing, and will focus on aircraft systems and human factors.

“As we continue to mourn the loss of our RCAF and RCN members, our hearts are with the families of Stalker 22. I am grateful for the work of everyone involved in the search and recovery efforts. We remain committed to supporting the families of our fallen, as well as those serving friends and colleagues who have been affected by this accident. With the cooperation of the Directorate of Flight Safety, a team of airworthiness experts are working closely to develop a plan to methodically and safely return the fleet to operations. This is critical work and we will take the time to do it right,” said LGen Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF.

“While the From the Investigator report identifies areas of focus for the remainder of our flight safety investigation, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do to understand the exact circumstances that contributed to the accident. We’re thankful for the support we’ve received so far from across National Defence, the whole of government, as well as the collaborative efforts of Sikorsky. We remain committed to conducting a thorough investigation to identify all we can that may contribute to safer flying operations,” added Col John Alexander, director of Flight Safety and Department of National Defence’s Airworthiness Investigative Authority.

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