First Flight of the RCAF’s CH-146C Mk II

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Bell Textron Canada Limited has announced the successful first flight of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s modernized CH-146 Griffon helicopter. This variant of the Bell 412EP was developed under the Griffon Limited Life Extension (GLLE) project, which aims to sustain the RCAF’s CH-146 Griffon fleet's capabilities through the 2030s.

Under the GLLE contract, Bell will provide modifications to various aeronautical components of the fleet, including avionics systems, cockpit displays, engines, and sensor systems. This announcement comes nearly five months after Bell was awarded the In-Service Support (ISS) contract, which is intended to sustain the Force’s fleet through 2039.

“The Bell 412 remains a venerable aircraft of choice for militaries across the world, with the Royal Canadian Air Force operating the largest and best-equipped militarized fleet of 412s,” said Danny Maldonado, chief commercial officer at Bell. “Bell is honoured to continue our relationship with the Royal Canadian Air Force as they expand their mission capabilities with next-generation technologies.”
To commemorate this historic milestone, Bell hosted an event at its Commercial Centre of Excellence, allowing attendees to witness the first flight of the upgraded platform.

The Royal Canadian Air Force utilizes its fleet of CH-146 Griffons for various missions, including worldwide humanitarian relief in support of the United Nations and reassurance measures under NATO. Domestically, the fleet is extensively employed for search and rescue services and support to first responders. Last year, the CH-146 Griffon fleet surpassed half a million flight hours.
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“As Canada’s only helicopter manufacturer in-country, Bell is a proud partner of the Canadian Armed Forces. Our facility’s local presence allows us to work closely with the Canadian government and other local customers to address their aircraft needs,” said Michael Nault, General Manager at Bell Textron Canada. “The GLLE program will help ensure that the Royal Canadian Air Force is equipped with cutting-edge defence technologies for years to come.”

The first upgraded CH-146 Griffon completed under the GLLE project is expected to be delivered to the Canadian government in 2026, pending military certification.
Founded in 1986 and based in Mirabel, Quebec, Bell Textron Canada Ltd. (BTCL) is committed to delivering exceptional customer experience and superior service and support globally. Represented by more than 1,500 employees and 550 suppliers across Canada, BTCL has built and delivered nearly 6,000 aircraft, with 1,000 provided to Canadian operators. Bell’s Canadian Supply Centre in Calgary sustains the fleets of local operators, including the Canadian Armed Forces, Transport Canada, and the Canadian Coast Guard.