Australian Navy’s landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra has commenced the first phase of helicopter trials at sea off the coast of both New South Wales and Queensland.
The Navy’s Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit is onboard Canberra conducting the trials with two MRH 90 helicopters from 808 Squadron and one S70B-2 Seahawk helicopter from 816 Squadron, along with their flight teams, to support the trials.
Canberra’s Commander Air, Commander Paul Moggach, said the trials were required to set operating limits for the Landing Helicopter Dock’s six spot flight deck.
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.
Ship helicopter operating limits are developed for all aspects of operations, including launch, recovery, degraded states of recovery, vertical replenishment and on deck evolutions such as aircraft movement or refuelling. These are then overlaid to whole ship evolutions including amphibious operations using the ship’s Landing Craft.
Among other firsts, Canberra has completed her first helicopter hot deck refuelling and the first concurrent helicopter serial, with two helicopters operating from the deck at the same time.
Also part of the trials is the movement of air aircraft around the six-spot flight deck and between the hangar and flight deck via the ship’s two aircraft lifts.
Canberra departed Jervis Bay to conduct hot weather trials off the coast of Townsville before she proceeds south in April to do cold weather flight trials off Tasmania. The ship will return to Fleet Base East, Sydney in May before commencing her work up at sea across all her capabilities.
Image: Australian Navy