Crew members onboard HMCS HALIFAX conduct inflight refueling with the embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, during Operation REASSURANCE, in the Mediterranean Sea on January 6, 2020. The helicopter is the same type that crashed into the sea off the coast of Greece. All CF Cylones are temporarily grounded until the cause of the crash is determined Photo: Corporal Braden Trudeau, Trinity - Formation Imaging Services- DND

U.S. Navy to help recover crashed Canadian Forces helicopter in Ionian Sea

More information is now being released about the crash of a Canadian Forces Cyclone helicopter.

The aircraft  based on the HMCS Fredericton went down on Apr. 29 while on exercises off the coast of Greece with NATO allies.

Initially it was thought that the aircraft went down somewhere away from the ship but it was later revealed that it was close enough for members aboard the ship to witness the crash. It has now been revealed that the helicopter had just performed a flypast of the ship for photographs shortly before the accident which claimed the lives of all six on board.

The body of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough were recovered soon after and the partial remains of one of the pilots, Capt. Brendan Ian MacDonald were later recovered and identified.

The flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders were also recovered and are being analysed at the National Research Council in Ottawa. No information has been released on what they might reveal.

It is believed the fuselage of the helicopter is lying on the bottom about 3,000 metres deep.

A spokesperson yesterday also said the helicopter had just undergone maintenance prior to the accident and that maintenance will be part of the investigation by the specialized military team which has been sent to investigate.

The Canadian Forces does not have the equipment to recover the aircraft and hopefully the remains of the four missing crew members. However, the U.S. Navy is cooperating with one of its deep sea salvage drones.

The US Navy Cable operated Underwater Recovery Vehicle (CURV 21) or similar will be used to locate the crashed helicopter and crew remains. ( US Navy SupSea)

It will be placed on a commercial ship and sent to the presumed crash site by May 25. The Canadian Forces special investigation team will be on board when the ship leaves Italy heading to the site.

The  aircraft emergency locator beacon should remain operational for a month and it is hoped that will facilitate finding the craft.

additional information – sources

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