HALIFAX — The Canadian military confirmed today that 21 of its 23 Cyclone helicopters have cracks in their tails.
Cracks were first detected in one of the maritime helicopters during a routine inspection on Nov. 26 at 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron at Patricia Bay, B.C.
By Dec. 5, the Air Force said it had discovered damage in the same general area on a total of 19 helicopters.
At the time, the military said two Cyclones did not appear to have any tail defects, and the remaining two in the fleet were receiving longer-term maintenance and would be inspected at a later date.
As of today, cracks on six of the Sikorsky-made aircraft have been repaired and four others are still in the shop.
Meanwhile, one of the damaged helicopters was to be flown from the deck of the frigate HMCS Winnipeg to Patricia Bay, which is north of Victoria.
The warship is returning to its base at Esquimalt, B.C., after completing a four-month tour in the Asia-Pacific region.
“In this specific case, a one-time short ferry flight from the ship to its home base at 443 Squadron, Patricia Bay was authorized, in accordance with a detailed airworthiness review,” the Royal Canadian Air Force said in a statement. “Minimal cracking was found on this particular aircraft.”
The Air Force has said the cracks are unique for each CH-148 Cyclone, although they are on the aircraft’s frame.
The U.S.-based manufacturer of the Cyclones, Sikorsky Aircraft, has devised a fix that involves the installation of reinforcements to provide added strength to the airframe, the military has said.
A spokesman for Sikorsky confirmed this week that the cracks were found in the forward portion of the tail cone, which is the section of the tail closest to the fuselage.
The Cyclone fleet has not technically been grounded or placed on an operational pause, but the military confirmed the damaged aircraft were removed from regular flying duties.
The squadron at Patricia Bay has six Cyclones. The entire fleet is overseen by 12 Wing Shearwater near Halifax, which has 17 of the helicopters.
One Cyclone crashed off the coast of Greece in April 2020, killing all six military members aboard.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2021.