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Cyclone soars in test flights

Even after three contract delays, the Cyclone helicopters could be worth the wait.

Even after three contract delays, the Cyclone helicopters could be worth the wait.

Shearwater will be home to some of the 28 helicopters being built by Sikorsky to replace the ’60s-era Sea Kings.

The first one was supposed to arrive last month, but a third delay “due to an issue outside of our control” has put it off again, said Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson in an email.

The $5-billion contract originally crafted in 2004 has drawn a lot of fire, including comments from the federal auditor general.

But a Cyclone test aircraft was in Shearwater last winter to conduct tests with HMCS Montreal.

According to an email from the Department of National Defence, it was Sikorsky’s aircraft and not one of the helicopters from the contract.

It returned to Sikorsky’s Flight Development Centre in West Palm Beach, Fla., after the trials.

“We were very pleased with the aircraft’s performance on and around the frigate,” said Jackson. “As is typical, we also benefited from a few discoveries as this was the aircraft’s first real shake-out in that tough operational environment.”

But Jackson wouldn’t elaborate on what those discoveries were.

The ship trials were a component of the contract. They tested the Cyclone’s compatibility with the ship, its ability to perform manoeuvres from the frigate, and its ability to be serviced on board given different weather conditions and sea states.

Jackson said there were “no significant compatibility issues.”

 
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