The Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, Lieutenant-General Alain Pelletier, has lifted the operational pause on the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter fleet.
The return to flying operations follows a thorough risk assessment that outlined mitigation measures to ensure aircrews understand the conditions that led to the crash and how to avoid or resolve them.
While the Directorate of Flight Safety investigation continues, information that the investigation uncovered to date —primarily from the Cyclone’s flight data recorder — allowed the investigative team to replicate the conditions in the CH-148 Cyclone flight simulator and rule out any mechanical failure. This revealed that the aircraft’s flight director was set to hold a specific altitude and airspeed.
Thus, during the complex manoeuvering turn to align with the ship, the pilot’s inputs were significantly different from the autopilot settings and the aircraft did not respond in a way that the crew was expecting. The investigative team has confirmed that this rare anomaly only occurred under a very specific and narrow set of circumstances. The crew would have had no previous exposure or experience on how to handle this situation.
With these circumstances now clearly understood, the RCAF has completed a detailed risk assessment and is implementing mitigation measures to allow for the safe resumption of flying operations.
“I truly appreciate the professional efforts of the Canadian Armed Forces airworthiness authorities who have contributed to both the investigation and risk assessment. I have the fullest confidence in their work, the Cyclone fleet, and our ability to safely return the maritime helicopter community to flying operations. We will do so in memory of our fallen,” said Lt-Gen Al Meinzinger, Commander Royal Canadian Air Force.
“The Canadian Armed Forces continues to mourn the six members we so tragically lost on April 29. The best way we can honour them is to get back into operations in a safe and deliberate manner and carry on our maritime mission in support of the Royal Canadian Navy. The resumption of flying for the CH-148 Cyclone fleet allows our maritime helicopter community to return to what they do best — using a leading-edge aircraft to support naval operations. While the Flight Safety investigation continues to work towards a more complete understanding of this tragic accident, the information uncovered so far has allowed us to thoroughly analyze what happened and mitigate risk to allow the fleet to resume flying. As our Cyclone crews return to the air, we will continue to support the families of the fallen and their loved ones here at home,” said Lt-Gen Alain Pelletier, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division and Department of National Defence’s Operational Airworthiness Authority.
“It is critical to recognize that the investigation into the accident continues, and there is still a tremendous amount of work remaining to ensure we understand the exact circumstances that contributed to the incident. Because of this, while some information was shared with the Operational and Technical Airworthiness Authorities to facilitate the risk analysis process, details about the crash will remain privileged by the investigation until it is complete,” said Col. John Alexander, Director of Flight Safety and Department of National Defence’s Airworthiness Investigative Authority.