WATCH: HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives home after ‘one thousand deck landings’ trials success


HMS Queen Elizabeth has arrived back in Portsmouth following successful first of class rotary wing trials in the Atlantic say the Royal Navy.

The above video was filmed by Jonny Davies and shared with his permission, his channel can be found here and contains footage of the comings and goings of Portsmouth Harbour.

According to the Royal Navy:

“A team of 56 aircrew, analysts and engineers from the Air Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC) at MOD Boscombe Down have been onboard the aircraft carrier for the past month with two Merlin Mk2 and two Chinook Mk 5 test aircraft.”

A thousand deck landings have been carried out in a range of sea and weather conditions, with the specially equipped helicopters gathering data to identify the operating limits of the aircraft from the carrier at sea. Both airframe types have flown an average of ten hours a day.

Neil Thomas, QinetiQ’s Programme Technical Manager onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, says the trials have been very successful.

“It’s gone extremely well, even through we had a very compressed timescale. We achieved 450 deck landings on Chinook and 540 on Merlin, which is pretty good going. This is definitely a once only career opportunity for us. It’s been an enormous challenge but well worth it for what we have achieved for the Royal Navy.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed to the Atlantic, where most of the trials flying took place. This is because of the greater range of weather conditions available there. The trials analysts will look at things like the deck motion, wind monitors on both the ship and the aircraft and analyse the points at which the aircraft reached their limits.

Royal Navy test pilot and Detachment Commander for the trials team, Commander Matt Grindon explains:

“We’ve been learning about the wind patterns on deck, this is a new design of ship and the way wind moves across the deck and affects flying is something that we’ve focused on in these trials.

Whilst turbulence is normal, one of my pilots has described it as the ‘Hand of God’ grabbing you and pushing you down onto the ship, which obviously requires a big power demand to stop the aircraft descending, so that’s given us some interesting insight. Nonetheless we have been able to clear a much wider envelope than we expected. We’ve been challenged, but that’s exactly what these trials are for.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Commander Air, Cdr Mark Deller adds:

“We have been operating on the likely limits that this ship will operate to and therefore have seen most of the weather conditions that we are likely to be exposed to. The ship has held up well, the deck is good and consequently the aircraft have behaved themselves, so all good news.”

Speaking as the ship sailed into Portsmouth, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd said:

“I am delighted with the rapid progress the ship is making toward becoming an operational aircraft carrier. The success of the rotary wing flying trials in the Atlantic with Merlin and Chinook is another important milestone on that journey. We are rapidly approaching our deployment to the United States in the summer when we will see the first F-35B Lightning aircraft land on Queen Elizabeth’s deck.

The ship is performing well and the marriage at sea of the Lightning and our carrier in a few months time will be a hugely symbolic event putting on notice that the UK is on the cusp of returning to fixed wing carrier operations at sea and a return to serious maritime power projection”.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Robert Blay

Over a thousand deck landings is incredibly impressive, a huge well done to the team.


Yeah. Away from the glare of the cameras there must have been many days of some very intense activity to clock up that number of landings. As you say, impressive and well done to all involved.


Terrific. Works out to about 38 per day


Totally agree with all the above comments. A big well done to the crew and contractors & everyone connected to this project.

Robert Blay

I do find it slightly disappointing that such a good news story with regards to the hugely successful helicopter trials only attracts four posts. There would be 20+ if it was something negative. As a ex RN aircraft handler, those deck teams, aircrew, engineers and everyone else in the ship’s company that makes aviation at sea happen will have been working there arses off to achieve that level of successful deck landings. We should be proud as punch of our Navy and all that its achieving.

John West

Personally, I admire that the RN crews are quietly (very) competent. Ignore the naysayers and JFDI. I had a plasterer in to do some work. He was very good and I told him so. His reply? “Thanks John and, please don’t take offence, your opinion ‘aint worth shit” He was right – I know nothing about plastering. The tabloid brigade will never do anything but carp but they are just empty vessels. . I’m sure anyone of the QEC crews who read your comment, knowing it comes from someone who has been there, pays a thousand fold more notice to… Read more »

Robert Blay

Thanks for the kind words John. Rob.

Martin Symes

I agree with you a big pat on the back to all concerned. Anyone who is not proud of our lads and lasses has no place on this site.


Navy is best !!

Tim sinnett

Everything so far seems smooth as you like.
As much as we like to berate ourselves all the time for not doing things right, we clearly are one of the best in the world at many. We are learning from past mistakes and do a huge amount with limited means.
Hats off to all the engineers, construction workers, project managers and the RN!

Paul Mercer

So sad to see the pride of the RN flagship without any defensive phalanx CIWS whatsoever …its an absolute disgrace a ship that is designed to fight is so underarmed compared to US Aircraft Carriers…just hope there is an astute class boat around if and when she ventures into south china sea.

Robert Blay

She is still on trials and not yet declared fully operational, when she deploys in 2020/21 She Will be fitted with all the toys. These ship’s can detect and track anything that moves within a 500 miles radius of her, something Will have gone badly wrong if she has to use her CIWS. Plus attacking someone’s aircraft carrier is generally bad for business, so I think she will be fine.


“These ship’s can detect and track anything that moves within a 500 miles radius of her.”

No it can’t unless it has AEW permanently in air. And it does not have a 500 miles range…

Mr Bell

Goes to show the RN needs the lions share of any increase in defence expenditure and budget- they consistently impress and of all the 3 armed forces are the force that has the most potential to provide what the UK needs post Brexit- expeditionary warfare, protection of our sea lanes of communication and the most potential for political influence and hard power demonstration. Surely we can build a better, stronger navy then we have currently- especially when our entire surface warship fleet (admittedly of only 17 escort warships in active service) only currently costs £1 billion a year- we can… Read more »