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Helicopter trials start on board the HMAS Canberra to set operating limits for the flight decks

A highly capable Lynx helicopter took part in the CTF-150 drug seizure."

The Royal Australian Navy has initiated the first phase of helicopter trials on board the HMAS Canberra and the operation is being conducted off the coast of both New South Wales and Queensland. 

HMAS Canberra, a 27,800-tonne amphibious ship, has a 6 spot flight deck. Canberra's Commander Air, Commander Paul Moggach said the operation is necessary to determine the operating limits for the decks.

"These trials are critical to the safe operation of helicopters onboard. The resulting operating limits will be used by all helicopters that operate from the deck of either Canberra or Adelaide during the course their life," he added. 

The Navy's Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit is on board to support the trials. Also present are the flight teams of a S70B-2 Seahawk helicopter from 816 Squadron and 2 MRH90 helicopters from 808 Squadron. 

What is the process of setting operating limits? 

Moggach said setting limits is a precise activity, which involves an elaborate process.

It is necessary to take into account factors such as the wind speed and direction, and weight of the aircraft. The pitch and roll of the moving flight deck also adds to the complexity. The current trials are substantial in nature considering there are 6 spots to individually test.

"The successful completion of these trials relies on close coordination between the ship, the trials unit, the embarked flight and Fleet Aviation support staff," he said.

The operating limits are developed for a range of functions which include launch, recovery, degraded states of recovery, vertical replenishment and on deck evolutions such as aircraft movement or refuelling. 

HMAS Canberra has already managed to operate 2 helicopters from the deck at the same time. She has also accomplished her  first helicopter hot deck refuelling. 

In April the ship will move for cold weather flight trials to Tasmania and is then expected to return to Fleet Base East in Sydney in May. Following this she will start operating with full use of her capabilities at sea.

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