PAS 2011: Cyclone stirs up Paris

June 22, 2011 | In The News

Re-posted with permission from Shephard Group 

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June 22, 2011 -- Personnel involved in the type's entry into service say the aircraft's performance is a quantum leap over the Sea Kings the Cyclone will replace and will also be capable of fulfilling many other roles at sea.

MWO Martial Laporte, a sensor operator involved in the Cyclone's operational requirements and training programme, told Shephard that the aircraft's system integration will make a huge difference in capability.

'The amount of information we collect on this aircraft is a quantum leap over what we could do with the Sea King and it really reduces the workload for the operator,' Laporte said.

The General Dynamics Canada system designed to collect data from aircraft systems, including the sonar, sonobuoys, surface search radar and other sensors, provides the sensor operator and the tactical operators officer, both sitting in the rear of the aircraft, situational awareness of the battlespace. This information can also be shared with the crew through the use of a large display screen that dominates the centre console in the cockpit.

'The system software allows us to add new apps to the mission system, which means we can have new aircraft capabilities without having to buy a new aircraft,' said Major John Potter, a CF officer involved with the aircraft's in service support.

'Systems like IVHMS collect data from all around the aircraft, they can feel the aircraft's heartbeat, our technicians can react to that data, and maintenance is objective rather than subjective.'

While the Cyclone's introduction has been the subject of long delays, the first aircraft was delivered by Sikorsky to the Cyclone's new home at Shearwater in Nova Scotia on 13 May and that aircraft is being used to train engineers and technicians. The aircraft will only attain service entry once the Canadian military certification board, the Director Technical Airworthiness (DTA), grants the Cyclone qualification and certification. At that point aircrew training can begin.

At the moment flying is being carried out by pilots from the Canadian Forces aircraft test and evaluation unit Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment flying alongside Sikorsky test pilots.

Leon Silva, chief engineer on the Canadian Maritime Helicopter project, said all the documentation required was into the DTA and he was optimistic that a decision was imminent.

The aircraft on display at Paris, 148807, will be the second aircraft to enter service and is one of the Interim Maritime Helicopters (IMH). The interim aircraft are fully-functional aircraft allowing crews to begin training, but are not fully compliant with Canadian specifications with less engine power, some operational software and a slightly limited endurance.

Following 148807's first flight, the aircraft was wrapped and shipped to Paris for its static display appearance, where it has attracted a great deal of interest from delegations.

'The first thing they say is "wow" when they get into the back of the aircraft,' said Silva, 'There is a lot of potential for re-roling the aircraft for different missions, something that simply isn't possible on the Sea King.

The aircraft can have its mission equipment, including console, dipping sonar and sonobuoy launcher, removed within four hours allowing seating for up to 22 passengers. For anti-piracy operations, the aircraft has been fitted out to be equipped with machine guns on the door and the rear ramp.

The Canadian Forces have ordered 28 Cyclones and the type is also in contestation against the NH90 to meet a German Navy shipborne helicopter requirement replacing the Marineflieger's ageing fleet of Westland-built Sea Kings.

Tony Osborne, Paris

A General Dynamics Business