Tag Archives: Sea King

Despite everything, Canada chooses Sikorsky

The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater, Canada at May 13, 2011, to support training of Canadian Forces aircrew and technicians for the Maritime Helicopter Project. (Image © RCAF/Sikorsky)
The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater, Canada at May 13, 2011, to support training of Canadian Forces aircrew and technicians for the Maritime Helicopter Project. (Image © RCAF/Sikorsky)

Despite painful delays, budget overruns and broken promises, the Government of Canada keeps choosing Sikorsky to provide the armed forces with the CH-148 Cyclone. The maritime helicopter will replace the aging Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-124 Sea Kings from 2015.

Canada says it now re-engages in a hard agreement with Sikorsky to “see delivery of helicopters with operational capability sufficient to begin retirement of Sea Kings in 2015, and a program to enhance those capabilities culminating in a fully capable CH-148 Cyclone in 2018”. Meaning, the RCAF for the first three years of operational service cannot use the new helicopters to their full advertised extend.

As we at AIRheads↑Fly reported in September, the Canadians were so mad at Sikorsky that they sent a team to the UK to validate the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin in stead of the Sikorsky machine.

The renewed Canadian deal is a win for Sikorsky, which suffered from very bad PR because of the Canadian project. But it doesn’t come light. Sikorsky will not be able to squeeze any more money out of the deal until they upgrade the Cyclones to full capability. Furthermore, the American helicopter manufacturer will pay US$88.6 million in liquidated damages for the non-delivery for the choppers.

Cyclone initial training and testing on very limited machines will with the new deal now continue at RCAF base Shearwater in Nova Scotia. External consulting agency Hitachi – which advised the Canadian government to continue with the Sikorsky deal – “will remain engaged in the project to ensure delivery of a fully capable maritime helicopter”.

Source: Government of Canada

Canada mad at Sikorsky, might choose Merlins over Cyclones

The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater, Canada at May 13, 2011, to support training of Canadian Forces aircrew and technicians for the Maritime Helicopter Project. (Image © RCAF/Sikorsky)
The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater, Canada on May 13, 2011, to support training of Canadian Forces aircrew and technicians for the Maritime Helicopter Project. (Image © RCAF/Sikorsky)

The Canadian government is furious at American helicopter builder Sikorsky for continuously not delivering the purchased and promised 28 CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters. The Canadians now sent a team of experts to the UK to check out the Royal Navy’s new Agusta Westland AW101 Merlin Mk2s.

The political and technical storm around the Cyclone helicopters has now reached such a point that Sikorsky might face a cancellation of the project by the Canadians all together, despite already paid damages for the years of delay and problems with the new CH-148s. The Royal Canadian Air Force needs the new helicopters by yesterday, to replace beautiful but dinosaur Sikorsky CH-124 Sea Kings in service since 1963.

The Royal Canadian Navy currently faces the lack of a modern air asset that can enlarge the range and effectiveness of the fleet with military, UN or disaster-relief operations. The Cyclones, flown by the Air Force on behalf of the Navy, are destined to execute anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance and search and rescue missions from the Canadian vessels. The old Sea Kings don’t meet current standards and show fatigue after decades of service.

Problems with the engines, with the mission gear and loads of other more minor issues have resulted in not a single CH-148 planned to be introduced in 2008 is currently in effective active service. There is a pre-version CH-148 for training purposes only, but that is about it.

The Cyclones are based on the Sikorsky S-92. Therefore the problems the Canadians are facing, seem to be more bad news for the US presidential helicopter project as well. The Pentagon wants a further developed version of the S-92 as the new POTUS ride.

A drop of the CH-148 and selection of the AW101 Merlin instead would be kind of special. In 1990 the Canadians ordered 50 EH101s on which the Merlins are based, but the deal was cancelled directly after elections by the then new government.

After initial problems with the Merlins in the UK, the Royal Navy now seems really happy with the new Mk2s. The Merlin option would make maintenance for the Canadians also easier, since the RCAF already flies 15 AW101 based CH-149 Cormorants bright yellow SAR helicopters.

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

What is wrong with the Super Puma?

The CHC operates 28 EC225 Super Pumas (as pictured) and 36 AS332 Super Pumas (Image © Eurocopter)
The CHC operates 28 EC225 Super Pumas (as pictured) and 36 AS332 Super Pumas (Image © Eurocopter)

Astonishing news this week. Roughly a month after the global stand-down order of the Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma was lifted, a similar helicopter – this time an older and smaller AS332 – crashed into the North Sea. The ditch, killing four of the 18 people on board, reminds many of two offshore incidents in 2012 which caused the flight prohibition to the newer and larger EC225 Super Puma.

August 23, 2013. The pilot on board a CHC Scotia AS332L2 Super Puma releases a distress signal about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) south of the southern tip of the Shetland islands. CHC is one of the world’s largest non-military helicopter operators, with more than 240 aircraft in about 30 countries. With its headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, the company’s choppers are a common sight in the North Sea area where they mainly transport personnel to and from oil and gas platforms.

Back to the the Shetlands on the unfortunate Friday where the CHC signal had been picked up at Sumburg airport. The air traffic controller on duty subsequently looses all contact with the chopper at 18:20 local time, when the Super Puma is about two miles west of the field. The Super Puma was on its way to Sumburgh, having taken off Aberdeen Dice airport earlier that day to visit two oil rigs on the way.

At 18:30 the Shetland Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre was advised by the Air Rescue Coordination Centre that they had lost contact with a Super Puma helicopter with 18 people on board traveling from the Borgsten Dolphin ridge to Sumburgh. Co-ordinators of the Shetland Coastguard immediately request assistance of air and sea assets.

A 130 miles (210 km) away, personnel at Royal Air Force air station Lossiemouth in Northern Scotland, directs the crew of a 202 Squadron D Flight bright yellow Westland Sea King helicopter to the accident area. Subsequently the privately owned search-and-rescue service Bond sends two of its choppers and almost immediately cancels its open day planned for August 24th. At the ports of Aith and Lerwick all-weather lifeboats head out to sea, about 40 respectively 20 miles (65 resp 32 km) from the last reported location of the ditched Super Puma. The RAF Sea King picks up medical specialists from the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and ferries them to Lerwick at the Shetlands.

The day ends with 14 people injured, one death and three still missing at sea. Immediately the discussion of the safety of the Super Puma picks up in several western media, including the Norwegian quality newspaper Aftenposten.

An Eurocopter EC 225 Super Puma Mark II on a North Sea platform close to Bergen, Norway, on September 27, 2008. (Image Nicolas Gouhier/Abacapress.com © Eurocopter)
An Eurocopter EC 225 Super Puma Mark II on a North Sea platform close to Bergen, Norway, on September 27, 2008. (Image Nicolas Gouhier/Abacapress.com © Eurocopter)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had just validated safety measures to the Super Pumas gear shaft box and main gear box emergency lubrication system on July 10th which were behind the crashes of two EC225 helicopters in the North Sea in 2012. On July 19th, the EC225s return to full flight status worldwide. However, most media missed an essential part of the information: a Super Puma is not always the same Super Puma. This was quickly reflected by CHC.

“We believe that engineering and operating differences associated with AS332L/L1 and EC225 aircraft warrant continuing flights with those aircraft”, a company spokesperson wrotes in a press release. “But in order to give us an opportunity to take stock of any implications associated with Friday’s accident, we will not fly AS332Ls/L1s/L2s anywhere in the world on Sunday, August 25, except for life-or-death search-and-rescue missions.”

Looking at the recent stand-down of the newer EC225 type and last week’s AS332 crash near the Shetlands it is easy to ask What is wrong with the Super Puma? But with both the stand-down and the crash happening in the North Sea the focus could very well be What is wrong with the Super Puma in North Sea offshore operations.

The answer might be nothing more than a temporarily broken image and tough luck just after the break. The EC225s worldwide alone accumulated 300,000 flight hours (source: Eurocopter). With so many Super Pumas of all types flying worldwide in both civilian and military roles sooner or later an accident is statistically about the happen.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

Canadian Sea Kings golden jubilee

RCAF CH-124 Sea King in 50th Anniversary paint scheme (Image Cpl David Randell, 12 Wing Imaging Services, Shearwater, N.S. © RCAF)
RCAF CH-124 Sea King in 50th Anniversary paint scheme (Image Cpl David Randell, 12 Wing Imaging Services, Shearwater, N.S. © RCAF)

There is the long service life of the B-52 bomber, and there is that of the Douglas DC-3 transport aircraft. But having a chopper like the Sea King running a show for 50 years impresses us too.

Such is the case for the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-124 Sea Kings, as the Sikorsky SH-3 helicopter is designated north of the American border.

The Canadian Sea King community had it’s own party in Halifax, Nova Scotia, around the turn of July/August 2013 in the new hangar of 12 Wing Shearwater.

Highlight of the Sea King festivities is the specially painted chopper with number 434.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

Overview: Royal Norwegian Air Force

Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) (Luftforsvaret) status as of 22 December 2015
(© 2014 Airheadsfly.com, source information: Forsvaret. Featured image: Cool ‘selfie’ from a RNoAF F-16 pilot while flying over Indre-Troms (Image © Forsvarets mediesenter))

>>> Check out our continuing news stream on the Royal Norwegian Air Force

Active number of aircraft: 117

  • 2x Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter
  • 50x Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter
  • 4x Lockheed P-3C UIP Orion maritime patrol aircraft
  • 2x Lockheed P-3N Orion maritime patrol aircraft
  • 4x Lockheed C-130J-30 Hercules tactical transport aircraft
  • 2x Dassault DA-20 Jet Falcon electronic warfare aircraft
  • 1x Dassault DA-20 Jet Falcon VIP transport aircraft
  • 18x Bell 412SP utility & transport helicopter
  • 6x NHI NH90 helicopter for coast guard duties and as shipborne anti-submarine / anti-ship and naval support
  • 12x Westland Sea King Mk 43 search-and-rescue helicopter
  • 16x Saab MFI-15 Safari basic training aircraft

Aircraft ordered

  • 20x Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealty multi-role fighters. Total requirement 52. First two aircraft delivered in 2015 to Luke AFB, no. 3 and 4 in 2016 and then 6 aircraft every year in the years that follow. F-35s will replace F-16s.
  • 8x NHI NH90 helicopter for coast guard duties and as shipborne anti-submarine / anti-ship and naval support
  • 16x AgustaWestland AW101, first deliveries planned in 2017. Will replace Sea Kings.

Airbases (Flystasjon): 8

Reserve bases and secondary fields: 9

    • Banak Lakselv
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron)
    • Andøya/Andenes (133 Luftving)
      • P-3 (333 skvadron)
    • Bardufoss (139 Luftving)
      • Bell 412SP (339 skvadron)
      • Lynx Mk 86 (337 skvadron)
      • MFI-15 Safari (Luftforsvarets flygeskole)
      • NH-90 (operational test & evaluation / 334 skvadron)
    • Bodø (132 Luftving, Huvudflystasjon (Main Air Base))
      • F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon (331/332 skvadron)
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron)
    • Ørland (138 Luftving, Huvudflystasjon (Main Air Base))
      • F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon (338 skvadron)
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron)
    • Gardermoen (135 Luftving)
      • C-130J Hercules (335 skvadron)
      • DA-20 Jet Falcon (717 skvadron)
    • Rygge (under command of 139 Luftving (Bardufoss))
      • Bell 412SP (720 skvadron)
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron)
    • Sola (137 Luftving, avd Sola)
      • Sea King Mk 43 (330 skvadron main base)
      • Alert operation base for F-16s
      • NATO tanker aircraft airbase Northern Europe
    • Luke AFB, Arizona, USA (F-35 training unit)
      • F-35A (2 aircraft in 2015, 4 in 2016, 7 aircraft in 2017/2018)

    >>> Check out our continuing news stream on the Royal Norwegian Air Force

    Shooting Range (aka very nice shots)

    A 4-pack formation of RNoAF F-16 fighters in a narrow fjord during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    A 4-pack formation of RNoAF F-16 fighters in a narrow fjord during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    A RNoAF P-3C Orion from 333 squadron during the DV-day under the winter exercise Cold Response 2012 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    A RNoAF P-3C Orion from 333 squadron during the DV-day under the winter exercise Cold Response 2012 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    The latest Royal Norwegian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules that was delivered as attrition to the one lossed in Sweden. (Image © Lockheed Martin)
    The latest Royal Norwegian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules that was delivered as attrition to the one lossed in Sweden. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

    A Royal Norwegian Air Force Dassault DA-20 Falcon in flight (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets Mediecenter)
    A Royal Norwegian Air Force Dassault DA-20 Falcon in flight (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets Mediecenter)

    RNoAF Bell 412SP with serial 167 coming in low, sporting Gatling guns on both sides of the aircraft (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    RNoAF Bell 412SP with serial 167 coming in low, sporting Gatling guns on both sides of the aircraft. (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    RNoAF/Kystvakt (Coast Guard) NH-90 with tail no. 049 from 139 Luftving during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    RNoAF/Kystvakt (Coast Guard) NH-90 with tail no. 049 from 139 Luftving during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Torbjørn Kjosvold / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    A Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret) Westland Sea King (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)
    A Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret) Westland Sea King (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)

    The final operational landing of a Norwegian Lynx (Image © Mats Grimsæth / Forsvarets Mediesenter)
    The final operational landing of a Norwegian Lynx, before the type was retired in December 2014 (read story and sea more images here) (Image © Mats Grimsæth / Forsvarets Mediesenter)

    One of the best Tigers ever, if we had our say. Which we have, now. The Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter served within the RNoAF 1966 to 2000. Norway bought 78 single-seaters (A), 14 two-seaters (B) and 16 RF-5A tactical reconnaissance jets (Image © Elmer van Hest)
    One of the best Tigers ever, if we had our say. Which we have, now. The Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter served within the RNoAF 1966 to 2000. Norway bought 78 single-seaters (A), 14 two-seaters (B) and 16 RF-5A tactical reconnaissance jets (Image © Elmer van Hest)

    The first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 lands at Luke AFB. (Image © US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Marcy Copeland)
    The first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35 lands at Luke AFB. (Image © US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Marcy Copeland)