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Helicopter/Cyclone discussion (split from HMCS Fredricton thread)

Colin Parkinson

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Basically to give the enemy a larger target selection to discern from, possibly a decoy TG similar to Chaff "Invasion fleet" of WWII and the IAF attacks on Berka Valley. if the enemy has 50 missile to launch from a given set of coastline, then you don't want them to see just 30 targets.
 

SeaKingTacco

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So, lets all be cautious of experts hired by news media organizations to sell a story.

I will use this anology: if somebody hands you a toolbox but does not really explain how all the tools work and you decide to use a screw driver where a hammer should have been used and you break the screw driver, was the tool faulty?

I am neither defending Sikorsky nor, in anyway shape or form, blaming the crew.

The automation involved in the Cyclone is complex and was previously not well taught nor uniformly well understood by crews. There is a very, very simple method of getting yourself out of trouble if the automation is doing something that you do not understand. All crews now understand that.

Maybe software does need to be re-written. Then again- maybe not. I am aware that you can create new, unforeseen problems with any new software build, so there is my bias.

As a closing note- I will personally fly on any Cyclone, on any day, with any crew on the Wing, as the software is currently written.
 

MilEME09

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Have to remember this is a new aircraft (relatively) things will come up that we never even thought of in testing, unfortunately this scenario had loss of life. With so few choppers flying the data collection over time isn't that massive vs say the chinook fleet globally.
 

dimsum

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Have to remember this is a new aircraft (relatively) things will come up that we never even thought of in testing, unfortunately this scenario had loss of life.
Exactly. This aircraft is still in the first edge of the "bathtub curve".

You can test something to the nth degree and still randomly find new issues when in service. If they rewrite the code, new "new issues" will pop up, I guarantee* it.

*not a guarantee
 

Eye In The Sky

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As a closing note- I will personally fly on any Cyclone, on any day, with any crew on the Wing, as the software is currently written.

Not everyone posted to your community shares that sentiment. I don't say this off-the-cuff; I say it from hearing it directly from some of them.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Before getting sucked into rabbit-holes...it might be worthy to re-read the Flight Safety Investigation Report and regain SA on the 'series of causal factors' related to accident.

A series of other causal factors were highlighted in the report, to include:
  • Control inputs when flying with the Flight Director engaged were not verbalized in the cockpit,
  • Flying publications contained information that may have been confusing or misleading,
  • The Statement of Operating Intent for the CH-148 did not specify the operational requirement to fly the manoeuver involved in the accident,
  • Standard operating procedures for this manoeuver were undocumented,
  • It was common practice to manually override primary flight controls while the Flight Director was engaged, and
  • The mode annunciation may not have sufficiently drawn the pilot’s attention to the fact the Flight Director was engaged during the manoeuver.
Recommendations include the need to modify software in the electronic flight control laws to enhance flight mode annunciation and awareness to the crew, amend CH-148 publications regarding automation strategies, and establish a working group to review the Maritime Helicopter Project Statement of Operating Intent. This review will determine the CH-148 operational requirements to fly complex turning manoeuvers, including the one that led to this accident.

There's enough to be concerned about in those written words, we don't need additional ones like "the autopilot took control of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter" from the media. I also understand that "autopilot took control" is easier to understand than...

The investigation determined that the aircraft electronic flight control system was designed and certified in accordance with applicable specifications but contained a fly-by-wire flight control law that created a Command Model Attitude Bias Phenomenon - an aircraft objectionable behaviour characteristic - that resulted in the pilots’ inability to effect a restorative pitch correction, while overriding the engaged airspeed/pitch axis flight director mode at low attitude.

The aircraft fly-by-wire control laws, when coupled to the indicated airspeed pitch axis mode of the flight director in a multi-axes manual flight manoeuvre with excessive manual input to the pedals, induced a negative pitch attitude bias resulting in insufficient aft cyclic controller command response to recover the aircraft without deselection of the flight director mode.


Take from CH148822 Cyclone - Epilogue

 
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AM Sup

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I'm neither an operator nor an engineer, but I sat in on the last risk assessment for the flight control logic behind this. There was a very specific set of conditions identified that lead to this bias phenomenon. They've done everything they can so that the crews can avoid recreating these conditions while the problem gets worked. It's not where anybody wants to be and I wish they had something better/faster, but it's a complex fix.
 

SupersonicMax

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I'm neither an operator nor an engineer, but I sat in on the last risk assessment for the flight control logic behind this. There was a very specific set of conditions identified that lead to this bias phenomenon. They've done everything they can so that the crews can avoid recreating these conditions while the problem gets worked. It's not where anybody wants to be and I wish they had something better/faster, but it's a complex fix.
If I was flying the Cyclone, my question would be “what else is hidden in the code.” This issue is a very significant technical oversight.

Not necessarily a reason to stop flying it but definitely would lower my confidence in the flight control logic.
 

YZT580

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If I was flying the Cyclone, my question would be “what else is hidden in the code.” This issue is a very significant technical oversight.

Not necessarily a reason to stop flying it but definitely would lower my confidence in the flight control logic.
Is there really anything wrong with the logic? If you fly on auto the machine will do everything reasonably well so the logic works. If you disconnect the auto, from what I understand the machine will accept your input commands and execute them without hesitation. The problem seems to be when you leave the auto connected and then try to fly manually. Simple solution: don't. One or the other but not both at once and it only makes sense. In any aircraft that I have flown, if I lock on auto and then turn away from the programmed track as soon as I release the controls the aircraft will turn back. What is not so understood by many is simply that all the while you are controlling the trajectory manually the gremlin inside the black box is desperately trying to correct what it perceives as an error. Even if the programmers took the time to perform every manoeuvre under the sun manually whilst on auto and documented said movement you can be sure there will be some that they simply overlooked. You can also bet that pilots being pilots will have initiated actions on their own that are not in the flight manual just to see what would happen or to see if they can do something more efficiently. Simplistically I believe that is all that happened in this case. Correct me please if I am wrong
 

PuckChaser

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If I was flying the Cyclone, my question would be “what else is hidden in the code.” This issue is a very significant technical oversight.

Not necessarily a reason to stop flying it but definitely would lower my confidence in the flight control logic.
Reading the recommendations as a layman makes it sound like that specific maneuver was not specified to the manufacturer when they made the software. That sounds a lot less like hidden code and more like "what else do we normally do that we forgot to tell them about".
 

SupersonicMax

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Reading the recommendations as a layman makes it sound like that specific maneuver was not specified to the manufacturer when they made the software. That sounds a lot less like hidden code and more like "what else do we normally do that we forgot to tell them about".
Flight Control Computers software aren’t built for specific maneuvers but are built to provide a consistent feel throughout the flight envelope and add safety valves. The fact that the autopilot drove the helo in the water with no intuitive means for the pilot to override it is a serious flaw. Yeah there were operational airworthiness issues (SOPs, SOI, etc) but it is not uncommon for young fleets and those issues were far from being the root cause (which is a faulty FCC code).
 

AM Sup

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I'm not going to comment about whether or not there's anything 'wrong' with the logic, I don't really have the background to say what it should or shouldn't do. I will say that the question that Max raised has been asked by operators, tech authority and division and the answers that came back from the experts addressed their concerns. Other specific/common manoeuvres, minor inputs and corrections were submitted by operators for evaluation against this logic issue as well, folks seemed satisfied with the results. The crews have been given a very specific set of inputs/conditions to avoid. I can only imagine the effect this has had on some of the crew and their confidence in the system.
 

Underway

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I don't know much about Exocets, but hopefully, the missiles drop before they ignite, otherwise, lots of maintenance.

And what is target acquisition like? Helo will certainly be in range of AAM on any ship that they can acquire on their own.

Again, neophyte here. Please weigh in NWO's.


Yes the missiles will drop off. ASM like Exocet do their own target acquisition. You essentially program the missile flight path and attack plan (time on target etc...) and then fire it. The missile does the rest.

Take a look at Chile's geography. A helicopter being able to launch exocets is a really good addition given their maritime domain.

In Canada's case, we would be much better with an MPA having that capability. For our own ships it would be better for the helicopter to provide targeting information for the ship to plan a Harpoon attack. The Cyclone has excellent sensors to pick up things beyond the CPFs visual horizon.

There was some discussion I had with pilots about Cyclones being modified for Hellfires. The mounting points for the Torps could take them, but I don't know any other mods needed on the internals of the aircraft (sensors, control systems, changes to cockpit to fire them). Both to support SOF but primarily to engage swarming boats and smaller vessels. It's well down the list of upgrades and mods when we were talking about it, and I suspect it's even further down since the accident.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Yes the missiles will drop off. ASM like Exocet do their own target acquisition. You essentially program the missile flight path and attack plan (time on target etc...) and then fire it. The missile does the rest.

Take a look at Chile's geography. A helicopter being able to launch exocets is a really good addition given their maritime domain.

In Canada's case, we would be much better with an MPA having that capability. For our own ships it would be better for the helicopter to provide targeting information for the ship to plan a Harpoon attack. The Cyclone has excellent sensors to pick up things beyond the CPFs visual horizon.

There was some discussion I had with pilots about Cyclones being modified for Hellfires. The mounting points for the Torps could take them, but I don't know any other mods needed on the internals of the aircraft (sensors, control systems, changes to cockpit to fire them). Both to support SOF but primarily to engage swarming boats and smaller vessels. It's well down the list of upgrades and mods when we were talking about it, and I suspect it's even further down since the accident.
The RCAF won’t do Helo ASM unless and until the RCN makes it a high priority.

Even then, it ain’t as simple to mod the helo as your friend made it out to be.
 

SupersonicMax

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The RCAF won’t do Helo ASM unless and until the RCN makes it a high priority.

Even then, it ain’t as simple to mod the helo as your friend made it out to be.
Especially on an orphan fleet like the Cyclone, where the whole effort would be borne by the CAF vs leveraging our allies…
 

Eye In The Sky

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In Canada's case, we would be much better with an MPA having that capability. For our own ships it would be better for the helicopter to provide targeting information for the ship to plan a Harpoon attack. The Cyclone has excellent sensors to pick up things beyond the CPFs visual horizon.

I'm of the opinion Canada would actually be better of with our MPAs and MHs having the capability. I am also confident in saying neither of them will, ever.

Re: "long list of upgrades"; there's still a ton of work to do on 'as things are now'; 2.1 is a step forward, sideways and backwards all at the same time...
 

Eye In The Sky

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Reading the recommendations as a layman makes it sound like that specific maneuver was not specified to the manufacturer when they made the software. That sounds a lot less like hidden code and more like "what else do we normally do that we forgot to tell them about".

Question for SKT or other's with Sea King hours; the return to target maneuver - was this pretty standard in the Sea King days and, detailed in the SMG?
 
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