The British Royal Navy’s newly commissioned Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has commenced preparations for its rotary wing trials at sea.
An anti-submarine Merlin helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has been training on-board the navy vessel at Portsmouth Naval Base as part of the preparatory tests.
The 820 Naval Air Squadron’s Merlin aircraft has been deployed to carry the flight deck crew through a wide range of mandatory aviation drills and procedures, which form part of the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flying trials.
HMS Queen Elizabeth lieutenant commander Jim Cobbett said: “The Squadron was the first rotary unit to embark with us up in Scotland when we came out of build.
“These sea acceptance trials, (Air) or ‘SAT (Air)’, have proved the ship’s aircraft services are ready for action with a live helicopter, and that everything functions correctly.”
The helicopter has been used to verify many of the flight deck and hangar facilities by connecting up to the vessel’s onboard electrical supply cables and refuelling hoses.
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It has also been involved in the testing of the ‘Telebrief’ system, which will enable the on-deck flying control (FLYCO) unit to communicate with each aircraft.
In addition, the helicopter has enabled the firefighting and rescue crew members to practice the emergency drills and skills required to ensure safe operations at sea.
Cobbett added: “Completing SAT (Air) is crucial to getting the ship ready to operate the whole spectrum of aircraft that we will be working with in the future.”
The Royal Navy carrier is scheduled to sail from its homeport for the rotary wing trial at sea over the coming weeks, which will see the ship undergo a series of deck trials with the Merlin helicopters.