Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth preparing for helicopter trials

The recently-commissioned Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has kicked off preparations for her rotary wing trials which are set to start in the coming weeks.

According to the Royal Navy, a Merlin helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has been training aboard the aircraft carrier in Portsmouth Naval Base as part of the trials.

The anti-submarine helicopter of 820 Naval Air Squadron has been putting flight deck crews through a series of mandatory aviation drills and procedures that are part of the aircraft carrier’s flying trials.

“The Merlins of 820 NAS are old friends of ours,” said Lieutenant Commander Jim Cobbett, ‘Lt Cdr Flying’ onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“The Squadron was the first rotary unit to embark with us up in Scotland when we came out of build. These sea acceptance trials (Air) or SAT (Air) has proved the ship’s aircraft services are ready for action with a live helicopter and that everything functions correctly.”

During the two days embarked package the Merlin was used to verify many of the flight deck and hangar facilities by connecting up to the ship’s onboard electrical supply cables and refueling hoses, as well as test the important ‘Telebrief’ system which will enable Flying Control – ‘FLYCO’ – to communicate with each aircraft whilst on deck.

“Completing SAT (Air) is crucial to getting the ship ready to operate the whole spectrum of aircraft that we will be working with in the future,” continued Lt Cdr Cobbett.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail from her home port for rotary wing trial at sea in the coming weeks, where she will undergo deck trials with Royal Navy Merlin helicopters.

Later this year fixed wing trials will begin with the F-35B in the summer.