CH-149 Cormorant


CH-149 Cormorant



The CH-149 Cormorant is dedicated to search and rescue (SAR). It can operate in some of the most severe conditions, making it ideal for Canada’s challenging geography and climate. The Cormorant has been used to help Royal Canadian Air Force Search and Rescue Technicians rescue injured mountain climbers, lost hikers and ship’s’ crews in distress, among other challenging rescues.

Powered by three engines, the CH-149 Cormorant has exceptional long-range capability. It can fly for over 1000 km without refuelling. With its ample cargo space and rear-ramp access, the helicopter can carry up to 12 stretchers or a load of 5000kg.

Its shaped rotor blades are strengthened by titanium strips along the leading edge. This design gives the CH-149 superior lift and speed, and significantly less vibration than many other helicopters. The Cormorant can also start and stop its rotors in very windy conditions reaching over 50 knots. Its advanced systems help to provide a stable hover for critical hoisting operations.

Equipped with a full ice protection system, the Cormorant routinely conducts rescues that would have been impossible for its predecessor, the CH-113 Labrador.

Technical specifications

Technical specifications

Aircraft description

The CH-149 Cormorant is a fully certified off-the-shelf civilian utility helicopter. Modified from the military specifications of the European EH-101 medium-lift military transport helicopter, the CH-149 includes search-and-rescue-specific equipment and physical characteristics and performance requirements to meet Canada’s SAR responsibilities.

Modifications include:

  • a rear-fuselage ramp
  • a single rescue door with both hoists on one side


 22.8 m

Rotor span

18.5 m


6.5 m

Maximum gross weight

14,600 kg


Three General Electric T700-T6A1 Turbines


278 km/h


1,018 km


Two 273 kg rescue hoists, storage racks for SAR equipment and 12 stretchers.

Year (s) procured

2001 to 2003

Quantity in CF



9 Wing Gander, NL
14 Wing Greenwood, NS
19 Wing Comox, BC



A person hangs suspended on a tether from a large helicopter flying near snow-covered, mountainous terrain.

Investments in modernizing and increasing the CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue fleet

Investments in the CH-147 Cormorant helicopter fleet, announced on August 22, 2019, will see the fleet augmented by a minimum of two helicopters. The fleet will undergo upgrades and enhancements that will extend the life of the aircraft to at least 2042.
August 22, 2019

Under a clear blue sky, a very large group of children and a few adults gather in front of a large yellow helicopter sitting in a field, with trees in the background.

Show-and-tell show stopper: 14 Wing helicopter crew pays visit to school kids

A helicopter from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, set down on the soccer field of Kings County Academy in Kentville on June 12, 2019, as a year-end treat for 600 excited students who lined the field awaiting its arrival.
June 24, 2019

Engine Compressor

CH149906 Cormorant - Epilogue

Helicopter CH149906 was conducting a normal take off to a 10 foot hover.  Three seconds into the take off, at approximately three to four feet above ground, the crew heard a clunk followed by "Master Warning" and "Engine Fail" tones.
August 7, 2013

Cormorant CH149910

CH149910 Cormorant - Epilogue

A technician was carrying out a torque check and nut replacement of the bolted connection between the Main Gearbox (MGB) upper case and main case when a lock-ring stud failed in overload.
November 16, 2012

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