The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ship HMAS Canberra has conducted the first flight trial with Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARHs).
Over the seven-week trial between the ARH Tiger helicopter and the LHD, support was provided by a team from the aircraft maintenance and flight trials unit (AMAFTU).
The first of class flight trial (FOCFT) plays a significant role in the introduction of a new helicopter into service and involves defining the safe environmental conditions for aircraft to operate to and from flight decks.
It also includes checking of aviation facilities, assessment of the interface between a particular helicopter type and ship class and equipment calibration.
AMAFTU flight test engineer lieutenant Viruben Watson said: “The formal test report is one of the key documents, which facilitates certification of the helicopter type to operate with that class of ship.
“In this case, we’ve flown over 50 hours across 27 sorties, and performed over 275 recoveries and launches.
“This data will be evaluated by AMAFTU personnel and used to provide a compilation of recommended ships helicopter operating limits for publication by the fleet aviation officer (FAVO).”
The FOCFT campaign saw Canberra conducting operations in Darwin Harbour, the Arufura Sea, and in the Pacific Ocean under different environmental conditions such as high temperatures, calm seas and light winds, along with higher winds and waves.
The trial helped validate proposed wind envelopes in conditions up to sea state five.
Trial director lieutenant commander Angus Hamilton said: “After evaluation and analysis on our return to AMAFTU, we expect to be able to deliver the largest possible proposed ship helicopter operating limit (SHOL), a critical step in introducing the ARH Tiger embarked capability.”