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Sea King Question  
User currently offlinespudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 300 posts, RR: 1
Posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 7984 times:

Living on the west coast of Ireland I regularly get the Irish Coast Guard S61N passing over on training/rescue missions. Its always a beautiful sight although we always hope its just on a training mission. The first of its replacement S-92 has been received and replacement of the entire fleet (6) of S-61's is due in 2013.

I remember reading years ago that the S-61/Sea King had some special qualities that made it a superlative rescue chopper. I believe it had some outstanding all weather hovering capabilities developed by the US for its anti sub work that made it the king at S&R. It had outstanding range and search endurance too. It could also land in water although I don't know if this was ever used for rescue work, I doubt it would be relevant in Atlantic swells.

Originally when our air corps got Dauphins they were supposed to take over the rescue role from the RAF who provided rescue cover for Ireland using Sea Kings but the Dauphins proved unable to carry out the role for whatever reason and long range cover was mostly still provided by the RAF (Thank you    ) until the coast guard took it over in 2001 with a private company (CHC) providing the service with S-61N's.

I know it was slow but the Sea King has done some amazing rescues off the Irish Coast, things like the Fastnet Disaster where they went out in force 9+ gales and 30+ foot swells and rescued many souls that night. To the best of my knowledge none have ever been lost in the rescue mission around Ireland. When you consider the weather they take on that is simply amazing.

The Irish Channel and west coast have always been a very demanding role for a rescue chopper, with range a key factor and it has always been said/felt that the Sea King was the only helicopter up to the job despite it being replaced in US service by many types. The Irish Navy has only very limited heilcopter (1 heli patrol craft which can take an AW139) capability so rescue responsibility falls to the various RNLI stations with helicopter cover from the Coast Guard. Thats a lot of ocean for 4 helicopters, they need to be good at it. I note the Royal Navy and RAF still use Sea Kings for their S&R despite Merlins coming on line.

My question is, have the new FBW(?) replacements such as the EH101, S-92, NH-90 etc surpassed its ability in the rescue role. They are definitely faster but do they have the range/endurance, inherent stability and sheer doggedness in the face of ridiculous weather to match the old warhorse?

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13165 posts, RR: 78
Reply 1, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 7797 times:

While it was an outstanding design, there are a lot of them as well.
Quality and quantity.
Built in the US, under licence in the UK - with a lot of domestic equipment, Italy, Japan I think too.
UK ones were also exported widely, Italy exported theirs too.

Just a very good, very sound design, also very adaptable.
ASW, SAR, assault chopper, even in the Royal Navy's case, AEW. (Spain also brought the AEW package fitted on their US sourced ones).

Not sure when the US stopped building them, I know that Westland and Italian ones remained in production well into the 80's. The RAF got a few HAR.3 versions new as late as the early 1990's.


User currently offlineconnies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 13
Reply 2, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 7775 times:

Quoting spudh (Thread starter):
My question is, have the new FBW(?) replacements such as the EH101, S-92, NH-90 etc surpassed its ability in the rescue role. They are definitely faster but do they have the range/endurance, inherent stability and sheer doggedness in the face of ridiculous weather to match the old warhorse?

Well, there is a lot of demanding weather off Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in the winter. One of the criteria for the SAR helo competition was the ability to auto hover, and the EH.101 does that quite well, reducing pilot workload. It has outstanding range, 3 engines vs 2, and certified in icing conditions - I believe still the only helo to have this.

A couple years back a CF EH.101 rescued a sick mariner about 1,800 km off CFB Gander by hopscotching across oil rigs in appalling conditions, at night of course. They're expensive beasts but worth it in terms of capability. Too bad our previous government was stupid enough to cave to politics and buy the Sikorsky S-92 as the new shipboard a/d instead of more EH.101s. Fleet commonality being a large issue. The S-92 I predict, if they ever get delivered (2 yrs behind now) won't do the job.



Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
User currently offlinespudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 300 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 7561 times:

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 2):
Well, there is a lot of demanding weather off Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in the winter. One of the criteria for the SAR helo competition was the ability to auto hover, and the EH.101 does that quite well, reducing pilot workload. It has outstanding range, 3 engines vs 2, and certified in icing conditions - I believe still the only helo to have this.

A couple years back a CF EH.101 rescued a sick mariner about 1,800 km off CFB Gander by hopscotching across oil rigs in appalling conditions, at night of course.

Ahh, so the Eh.101 has auto hover. Its an impressive helicopter all right. I saw an RAF Merlin being put through its paces on Discovery Channel one night, I came away thinking it was one hell of a helo! My gut feeling was that it was probably too expensive/big to be allocated the SAR role but your fishing fleet and fishing grounds would need the kind of cover it offers.

An 1,800km Rescue, at Night!! I hope these brave guys got the recogniton they deserved!

You don't rate the S-92, how come?
Rightly or wrongly I was always under the imprssion that the S-70 was a smaller helo than an S-61 but its weights and dimsions quoted in Wikipedia are very similar (higher than the S-61 even). I know the S-92 is a development of the S-70 but when the S-92 was announced as the replacement for our S-61's I hoped that it would at least match the SAR performance of the Sea King. Like GDB said, there are a lot of Sea Kings out there in the SAR role, their air frame life must be ticking by pretty quickly. Thats a big market.


User currently offlineconnies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 13
Reply 4, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 7466 times:

Quoting spudh (Reply 3):
You don't rate the S-92, how come?

Cheaper, which in the Liberals mind at the time was overarching. Less capable, not able to carry the same payloard/warload to the target area, less time over target, no icing certification, 2 engines vs 3. The EH.101 is an expensive beast, but it is the Rolls-Royce of helicopters. And, unlike the F-35 (see elsewhere) saga, one that is fairly easy to justify.

It only cost about $700M to cancel the contract when then Libs decided that the EH.101 was too rich for our blood.

And we STILL do not have a Sea King replacement. I'm not actually sure of the S-92 delivery schedule, if there is one.



Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1675 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 7431 times:

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 4):
Cheaper, which in the Liberals mind at the time was overarching. Less capable, not able to carry the same payloard/warload to the target area, less time over target, no icing certification, 2 engines vs 3. The EH.101 is an expensive beast, but it is the Rolls-Royce of helicopters. And, unlike the F-35 (see elsewhere) saga, one that is fairly easy to justify.

Introduction of the Cormorant was troublesome; there were a lot of issues with the tail rotors on them; something about the manufacturing process. Apparently, the original tail rotors were made from composite and were machined with tight radius corners. Unfortunately, this tail rotor design was prone to premature cracking, which led to frequent inspections and repairs. There has been a number of fixes along the way for the type; composite half-hubs with titanium back plates, followed by the US-101's monolithic-machined titanium half hub.

Another issue, that was totally unrelated to the aircraft was spare parts. What was asinine was that although we bought the helicopters from AWIL, the maintenance contract went out to IMP Aerospace. Not to slag IMP Aerospace, as their hands were tied, but when we bought the helicopters, we didn't purchase the data rights to them. That meant that heavy duty maintenance, like transmissions and rotor heads can only be overhauled by AWIL. Also any unusual snags need AWIL authority to rectify; a process that frequently takes weeks or months to accomplish.

Not to mention that our CH-149's are unique in the EH-101 world; there is basically little-to-no avionics commonality between our Cormorants and any other EH-101 in the world. We bought orphans, which causes headaches for getting spare parts.

Bemoan the airframe if we like - it is still far superior to the chopper it replaced. It has done SAR missions that would have turned the Lab back at the outset. Maintenance issues aside, the operators love this machine and the issues have slowly been knocked out one by one. The problems were primarily based upon the process in which we bought them, less about the aircraft itself; for example, we don't have a flight simulator in Canada to train pilots; we have to fly our pilots to the UK for training on their sim, and then send them back to Canada for familiarization flights because ours are unique.

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 4):
And we STILL do not have a Sea King replacement. I'm not actually sure of the S-92 delivery schedule, if there is one.

Absolute fiasco if you ask me. There was an explosive story on the Cyclone a while back which pretty much outright stated that the helicopter never met many of the requirements from the onset, but was allowed to compete by senior politicians.


User currently offlinespudh From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 300 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (1 year 11 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5852 times:

One of the new S-92's flew over me yesterday, impressive looking helo, good to see it operational.

I really, really hope it lives up to its specifiation, the S-61 is one tough act to follow, alot of people here owe their lives to this remarkable aircraft and the brave crew which flew them. I'll miss its familiar form as it flew across the bay in front of my house.


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13967 posts, RR: 63
Reply 7, posted (1 year 11 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5683 times:

Quoting spudh (Thread starter):
until the coast guard took it over in 2001 with a private company (CHC) providing the service with S-61N's.

When I was working in SNN, the ones I saw based there were from Bond Helicopters.

Jan


User currently offlinechuchoteur From France, joined Sep 2006, 762 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 11 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 5608 times:

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 2):
certified in icing conditions - I believe still the only helo to have this.

...nope. AS332L is approved for flight in known icing conditions, and I'm sure some others are too.

Quoting spudh (Reply 3):
A couple years back a CF EH.101 rescued a sick mariner about 1,800 km off CFB Gander by hopscotching across oil rigs in appalling conditions, at night of course.

That rescue was "only" a 1,600km round-trip, with one refuelling stop.

The longest rescue recorded was in Dec 1994, 2x HH-60 helos flew a 3,250km round trip from long island via halifax and then 750 nm offshore to rescue 1x survivor from the Ukrainian ship "Salvador Allende".

An interesting one as well (using an AS332L) is at 2,200km round-trip. The Svalbard SAR helicopter went to pick up 4 guys off the ice north of Greenland (two refuelling stops).

It is an interesting story as the main victim was suffering from appendicitis. A first rescue based on a crew of 2 flying a ski plane had failed (the aircraft crashed on landing) so the Svalbard Super Puma was sent out to pick up the patient. On arrival they discovered that the crew of the aircraft and the 2nd researcher had burnt off all their food provisions as they were expecting a ride back (standard procedure - leave nothing for the polar bears).

As a consequence, the Super Puma had 3 additional unexpected passengers for the return trip!


User currently offlinegemuser From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 5615 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (1 year 11 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 5412 times:

Quoting GDB (Reply 1):
Just a very good, very sound design, also very adaptable.
ASW, SAR, assault chopper, even in the Royal Navy's case, AEW. (Spain also brought the AEW package fitted on their US sourced ones).

Don't forget they were also an airliner. Ansett operated two in the Whitsunday Island group on the Great Barrier Reef, I was fortunate enough to fly them in the 1970s. Didn't they also operate scheduled services for BEA at one time?

Gemuser



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