New military helicopter tail cracks likely due to equipment weight: DND

Ottawa — The Ministry of Defense has blamed obvious design flaws in cracks recently found in most tails of the military’s new cyclone helicopters.

In a statement on Monday, the ministry believes that the weight and pressure of the equipment installed in the tail is likely to be the cause of the cracks found in 21 of the 23 cyclones in the military. Said. Almost half of them remain grounded.

The conclusion is based on the “first decision” of Sikorsky Aircraft, a U.S. manufacturer that has worked with the military to identify the cause and find both short-term and long-term solutions to the problem. I did.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the problem. The agency said it was due to the “structural load” caused by the electronic warfare suite of the helicopter in flight and the satellite communications antennas.

The Ministry of Defense referred to Sikorsky for questions about the cause of the crack and said he did not expect to bear the additional costs of having to fix the problem.

He also acknowledged that no issues were found during the departmental and military certification process before the aircraft was allowed to begin flight.

The ministry suggested that it is not uncommon for new military aircraft and other equipment, including those with similar certifications, to experience problems shortly after commissioning.

Nevertheless, tail cracks are the latest in the cyclone problem list since 2017. This includes several power outages and software issues that killed six military members in April 2020 when one crashed off the coast of Greece.

Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, Lieutenant Sub. Abigail Cowbro, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Brenden McDonald, Captain Maxim Milon Morin, Ensign. Matthew Pike died in a crash. This is the biggest loss of life for the Canadian Army in one day since its mission in Afghanistan.

The military said it was working with Sikorsky to fix a software problem, but the problem was resolved almost two years after the crash.

Sikorsky did not immediately answer the question about the cause of the crack on Monday, but spokesman John Dorian said in an email that it would not pose an “immediate” safety hazard.

“We expect a definitive solution by the end of February,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has patched the cracks in 11 of the 21 helicopters affected so far, and said work is underway for four more. It is not clear when the entire fleet will return to service.

Larry McFah, a former commander of the 423 Marine Helicopter Squadron in 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia, said the Defense Ministry statement was a “design issue that had to be fixed.” Said that it is shown in.

The statement was about whether Sikorsky had a flaw in the design of the cyclone based on the company’s S-92 helicopter, or if there was a gap in the Defense Department’s certification process, or if it caught it earlier. Has not answered.

“Hopefully, Sikorsky will come up with a solution to prevent it from becoming a recurring problem,” he added. “Obviously, this happened to almost every fleet very early in the life of the aircraft.”

Cyclones are typically deployed on Canadian frigates and are used for search and rescue, surveillance, and anti-submarine warfare. They first began flying real missions in 2018, after nearly 20 years of developmental problems and delays.

Sikorsky has not yet delivered all 28 Canadian-ordered helicopters for a total of $ 3.1 billion and will need to upgrade the helicopter software it delivers to meet military requirements.

The Ministry of Defense said it was able to maintain enough cyclones in the air to meet Canada’s needs, including deploying it on three different warships operating abroad this month.

Despite the cyclone problem, Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Al Meinzinger and the Defense Ministry’s Chief Procurement Officer expressed their confidence in the helicopter in a separate interview with the Canadian press last month.

Deputy Assistant Minister of Supplies Troy Crosby also said he felt safe to fly with the military’s new cyclone helicopter and was more concerned about the “urban legend” that emerged about the aircraft than the actual airworthiness.

Along Lee Berthiaume

Canadian press