Air Force chief stands by cyclone helicopters despite emergency landing, fatal accident


OTTAWA – The commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force says he has “complete confidence” in the Army’s new cyclone helicopters, including last year’s fatal crash off the coast of Greece and an emergency landing at Holland Park in the past, despite rising incidents . Month.

In an exclusive interview with the Canadian Press, Lieutenant-General. Al Meinzinger played down the emergency landing as a precautionary step and defended the decision to let the Cyclones return to the air despite unanswered questions about Scalar 22’s downing.

“Yes, I have full faith in the aircraft,” he said. “In every case when there is an accident, we do not hurry. We take our time. We are very deliberate because we have to be right. It is serious business.”

Meinzinger’s comments marked a commemoration in the final week of Downing’s one-year anniversary of Stalker 22, which killed six Canadian Armed Forces members, the largest single-day life for the military in more than a decade There was a loss of

He continued to investigate the cause of the accident. According to an initial report in June last year, the helicopter’s autopilot was fighting the pilot’s command when it crashed into the Ionian Sea at a high speed.

Master cpl Matthew Cousin, Sub-Lieutenant. Abigail Cowbrowse, Capt. Kevin Hagen, Capt. Brendan Macdonald, Capt. Maxim Miron-Morin and Sub-Lieutenant. Matthew Pyke died in the accident.

Miron-Morin’s mother, Marie-Claude Miron, has questioned whether the cyclone, which only began to undertake the actual mission in 2018, was allowed to return to the air less than two months after the accident when the causes The investigation is on.

“We need (the report) to understand,” Miron said last week. “When they told us that the same type of helicopter was flying again, a month after the accident, I got so mad. It was unforgivable. It felt like Max gave up his life to test a machine. “

Cyclones are typically deployed on Canadian frigates and are used for search and rescue, surveillance, and anti-submarine warfare.

Meinzinger expressed optimism that flight-safety investigators would soon prepare their report and commit families to briefings as soon as it ends.

“That work continues, and it will be done professionally and thoroughly,” he said of the investigation. “Once this is completed, the first individuals to be briefed will be families before going public.”

Yet Meinzinger defended the decision to let Cyclone go back on air last June: “Of course, we have not taken that decision lightly. A great deal of review and technical and operational advice went into it.”

The Air Force commander went on to praise the Air Force personnel and procedures to determine if an aircraft or helicopter is safe to use, and noted that the cyclone has been a major threat since the crash of Stocker 22 Missions have been swept away.

One of those other helicopters was forced to make an emergency landing on April 13 at Rainbow Haven Provincial Park, a warning light alerting the crew of a problem with the main rotorhead, where the blades’ shaft was in the rotor Are included.

The military says the helicopter was moved to a nearby 12 Wing Shearwater where the problem was corrected, and has since resumed.

“It was on the absolute low end of the concern,” Meinzinger said of the incident. “The crew did what any crew would do, which is on the ground, call a techie, look at them on the plane and then have to fly soon after that. I have no worries.”

Much of the discussion surrounded the long and problematic development of the Cyclone after the Stalker 22 crash, with the manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft still developing the aircraft’s software to meet the Army’s full requirements.

The Stellar 22 crash was actually the third cyclone-related incident in which a software glitch was found to fall from an altitude of several hundred feet to one of the helicopters during a test flight in 2017. In February 2019, there was a “hard landing” on a ship.

Following the 2017 incident, a number of restrictions were imposed on helicopters to stop some of the maneuvers crews.

Lieutenant-Colonel. Bill Thomay, commanding officer of 423 Squadron at Shearwater, said last week that the resumption of flights after Stalker 22 was accompanied by new training and that the flight manual was updated so that pilots knew of the problem and how to respond to it Go

Asked if the flight control system software had been changed, Thomae responded: “This (information) will come out in due time with the release of all (security) reports.”

Two of the Army’s 16 cyclones are currently assigned to ships: one at HMCS Calgary and the other at HMCS Halifax. There are still 11 helicopters to be delivered in Canada by the American manufacturer.

– With files by Michael Tutton in Halifax

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 5, 2021.

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