Helicopters Magazine

AW101’s mark 10 years service with RCAF

October 10, 2012  By Carey Fredericks

Oct. 10, 2012, Ottawa - AgustaWestland is pleased to announce that its fleet of AW101 (formerly EH101) “Cormorant” search and rescue helicopters has achieved dual milestones of 10 years active service with the Royal Canadian Air Force and 50,000 operating hours.

“Canada’s Cormorants are the benchmark for AW101s around the world,” said Jeremy Tracy, AgustaWestland’s Head of Region for Canada. “We are proud to be supplying a helicopter which helps the Canadian Forces’ search and rescue squadrons perform selfless heroics time and time again ensuring the safety and survival of Canadians anywhere on and offshore.”

Mr. Tracy recently presented a certificate marking the 50,000 operating hours by the Cormorant fleet to Lieutenant-General Alain Parent, the former Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, just prior to his appointment as Deputy Commander of NORAD. Parent acknowledged the AW101 saying, “the Cormorant in SAR operations in Canada performs well with a capability second to none.”

The Cormorant fleet has a dispatch availability rate in excess of 99 per cent for proven reliability in emergency and critical mission deployment. This past year alone, Cormorants have been used for life-saving missions off both Canadian coasts, high up snowy, windswept mountains and in the high Arctic. Almost 200 AW101s have been ordered worldwide with the total fleet having flown more than 275,000 hours including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In August, an AW101 Cormorant – “Rescue 908” – flew 15,221 km (8,219 nm) round trip from Gander, Newfoundland, for Operation Nanook 12, Canada’s annual Arctic military exercise. During the 26-day exercise, the helicopter travelled over three provinces, one territory and parts of Greenland, becoming the first Cormorant to land in Alert, Nunavut, the northernmost inhabited place in the world. At one point it also transported Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen, who were on hand to observe various exercises. The same AW101 was used in September for SAREX 2012, Canada’s annual search and rescue competition in Val-d’Or, Quebec.


The first operational flight of a Cormorant in Canada took place in July 2002, with a medical evacuation of a sailor from a freighter 200 km (110 nm) off the coast of British Colombia. Later that year, a Cormorant flew a 1,200 km (648 nm) rescue mission off Newfoundland, demonstrating its enhanced search and rescue capabilities by surpassing the 1,100 km range of the Labrador helicopters it replaced.

Over the past decade, Canadian Forces SARTechs and flight crews have received international recognition for rescues they have performed using Cormorants. The AW101 continues to lead it’s class as the world’s most advanced and capable search and rescue helicopter in the world today with a large cabin, long range of over 1,300 km., high cruise speed, all weather operating capability, reliability and safety including proven 30-minute run dry gearbox. Its cabin can accommodate 30-plus survivors, SAR equipment and crew, and the cabin can be reconfigured in flight to meet mission requirements.


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