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Software glitch contributed to fatal naval helicopter crash that killed six

Canadian naval helicopter plummeted into the Ionian Sea in 2020, killing all six on board
Military personnel salute as the homecoming motorcade procession for the return of Capt. Brenden MacDonald, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, drives through 12 Wing Shearwater near Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Six Canadian Armed Forces members died when a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter flying from the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton crashed off the coast of Greece while taking part in a NATO exercise in the Mediterranean. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

A military investigation has found that a software glitch played a major role in the deadly crash of a Cyclone helicopter off the coast of Greece last year.

The military’s flight safety directorate says manual inputs to the flight controls overrode the aircraft’s automation system, causing the naval helicopter to plummet into the Ionian Sea, killing all six personnel on board.

The report lists several recommendations, including the need to modify flight control software and establish a working group to review operational requirements around complex turning manoeuvres for the new CH-148 Cyclone.

The Cyclones are typically deployed on board Canadian frigates and used for search and rescue, surveillance and anti-submarine warfare.

The crash of the Stalker 22 on April 29, 2020, marked the third incident involving a Cyclone, with defective software blamed for one of the helicopters’ suddenly dropping several hundred feet during a test flight in 2017. Another had a “hard landing” on a ship in February 2019.

Several restrictions were placed on the helicopters after the 2017 incident forbidding crews from performing certain manoeuvres.

—The Canadian Press

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