Initial report on Cyclone accident released
The 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 CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on Wednesday, 29 April 2020. The helicopter was deployed on HMCS Fredericton under Operation REASSURANCE when it crashed in the Ionian Sea. All six occupants of the helicopter were fatally injured.
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 manoeuvring 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.
“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,” says Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Flight Safety Investigations are conducted to ensure CAF personnel can continue to have confidence in its equipment and procedures. One of the aims of the Flight Safety program is to investigate such occurrences with the objective of quickly identifying effective preventive measures that will either prevent or reduce the risk of similar occurrences in the future. During the course of the Flight Safety investigation, the Director of Flight Safety may share information with the Operational and Technical Airworthiness Authorities to improve safety of flying operations.
Report from the Investigator issued 8 June 2020
“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,” said Colonel John Alexander, Director of Flight Safety and Department of National Defence’s Airworthiness Investigative Authority. “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.”
Human factors examine all the human elements within an incident or accident, such as training, aircraft design, how it is flown, and interactions of crews with each other, with the aircraft, and with external elements. Aircraft systems factors examine any relevant aspects of aircraft systems including, for example, mechanical, electronic, flight control and navigation systems. It is common to focus on both areas and the interaction between human elements and aircraft systems where a cause may not be immediately clear.
“As we continue to mourn the loss of our RCAF and RCN members, our hearts are with the families of Stalker 22,” reminds LGen Meinzinger, of ongoing support to families and friends of the fallen.
The CH-148 Cyclone was put on an operational pause, which is a temporary cessation of flying operations, immediately following the incident while the RCAF investigates the cause of the accident.
The operational pause remains in effect, while a team of subject matter experts are conducting a thorough risk assessment process to enable an eventual return to flying operations for the CH-148 Cyclone fleet.