PICTURES: First flight for Canada's Cyclone maritime helicopter

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Sikorsky conducted the first flight of a CH-148 Cyclone multirole helicopter for the Canadian armed forces at its Florida development flight centre on 15 November.

Performed by two company test pilots, the debut included hover and low-speed handling tests including sideward and rearward manoeuvres and forward flight up to 30kt (55km/h), says Sikorsky.

 
© Sikorsky

"The aircraft performed beautifully, easily achieving each manoeuvre attempted," says Sikorsky programme manager Dan Hunter, describing the first flight success as "a huge milestone".

Cyclone 801 is the first of 28 aircraft to fly for Canada under the nation's C$1.8 billion ($1.46 billion) maritime helicopter programme, which will deliver replacements for its remaining Sikorsky H-3 Sea Kings. Planned missions for the S-92 development include anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare tasks, personnel and cargo transport and search and rescue.

Sikorsky says the first Cyclone will undergo continued flight-testing before achieving certification, but has not revealed the expected schedule for the delayed start to production deliveries. “We are continuing to hold discussions with the Canadian government in an effort to get the aircraft fielded as quickly as possible,” it says. “Until we have concluded those discussions, commenting on the delivery schedule and other details would be premature.”

 
© Sikorsky

Featuring digital fly-by-wire control and anti-icing equipment, the CH-148 will carry a 360° maritime search radar, forward-looking infrared sensor and acoustics equipment, and has automatic blade and tail fold systems and a countermeasures suite.