The Department of National Defence has issued the From the Investigator (FTI) report on the accident of the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-148 Cyclone helicopter that crashed on April 29, 2020. The Cyclone was a part of Operation REASSURANCE when it crashed in the Ionian Sea killing all six occupants.

The report provides a brief summary of the events and what information is known at this time and does not offer full details surrounding the accident, which is still under investigation.

The investigation reveals that the helicopter:

“…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.”  

“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 Col 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.”

The focus on the next phase of the investigation will be on aircraft systems and human factors. Aircraft systems investigation will cover mechanical, electronic, flight control and navigation systems, while human factors that will be looked at include training, aircraft design, how it is flown, and interactions of crews with each other, with the aircraft, and also with external elements. 

Since the accident, the CH-148 Cyclone fleet was put on operational pause while a thorough risk assessment will be conducted to eventually return to flying operations.

“As we continue to mourn the loss of our RCAF and RCN members, our hearts are with the families of Stalker 22. I am grateful for the work of everyone involved in the search and recovery efforts,” said LGen Al Meinzinger, Commander of the RCAF.“We remain committed to supporting the families of our fallen, as well as those serving friends and colleagues who have been affected by this accident. With the cooperation of the Directorate of Flight Safety, a team of airworthiness experts is 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.”