RCAF marks 20th anniversary of the Cormorant
The Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-149 Cormorant fleet of AW101 helicopters celebrated 20 years since the aircraft’s initial delivery to Comox, British Columbia
This significant milestone compliments the fleet’s recent achievement of 100,000 flight hours. Since delivery of the CH-149 Cormorant helicopters, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has been performing thousands of missions throughout the varied terrain of Canada and internationally.
After 20 years of service life, the CH-149 Cormorant fleet is requiring a mid-life upgrade that is being proposed by Leonardo, together with its Team Cormorant partners, IMP Aerospace and Defence, CAE, GE Canada, and Collins Aerospace Canada.
The Cormorant Mid Life Upgrade (CMLU) will address obsolescence issues, ensure compliance with emerging airspace requirements, extend the life expectancy of the fleet to 2042+ and return the Cormorant to Main Operating Base (MOB) Trenton through fleet augmentation.
The RCAF achieved 100,000 hours flying hours of the Cormorant fleet in July this year, 103 Sqn at MOB Gander, 413 Sqn at MOB Greenwood, 442 Sqn at MOB Comox and the In-Service Support Contractor, and Leonardo’s CMLU partner, IMP Aerospace, accomplished this incredible milestone together.
Flying the aircraft from Italy to Canada
One of the pilots supporting the Canadian aircrew, former Leonardo Pilot Jeremy Tracy, remembers picking up the aircraft: “We departed Vergiate, Italy, on 30 September in 2001, along with a support crew from IMP who took care of the maintenance en route.
“We initially flew to Marseilles as the weather over the Alps was poor and we were forced to stop in Montpellier overnight. The following day saw us fly from France to Yeovil, Leonardo’s UK onshore helicopter facility, where our colleagues viewed the Cormorant helicopter end route to Canada.”
The following day the crew flew to Aberdeen in Scotland, where they met the C-130 Hercules crew that would accompany the helicopter on the entire journey. The crew pressed on to Vagar in the Faroes to refuel and continued to Reykjavik in Iceland for an overnight stop. The next day the crew flew from Iceland to Kulusuk on the East coast of Greenland to refuel and then on to Narssassuaq on the Southern tip of Greenland, as the weather over the top of Greenland was in the midst of a snowstorm.
Tracy continued: “Our trusty C-130 team advised against flying over the top of Greenland. The following morning, we flew to Nuuk the capital of Greenland on the West coast and then we flew on to Iqaluit in Nunavut, the first landfall in Canada. Following an established route, the next stop was Kuujjuaq to refuel and then to Grand Rivières in Quebec at the southern end of Hudson Bay, where we stopped overnight in the bitter cold at -32 degrees.”
The crew then flew onto Thunder Bay for refueling and on to Winnipeg to show the aircraft to 1st Canadian Air Division and complete some maintenance. The penultimate stops were to Moosejaw and on to Calgary to stop overnight.
“Finally, on 11 October, we flew from Calgary to Kamloops to refuel and on to Comox the home of the Training Squadron and 442Sqn, for a celebratory arrival,” Tracy shared.