Ottawa on hook for software program downside that brought about lethal 2020 navy helicopter crashMarch 3, 2023
A still-unresolved software program downside recognized as the primary explanation for a lethal navy helicopter crash off the coast of Greece in 2020 will find yourself being fastened on Ottawa’s dime – at a yet-to-be-determined price and time.
The Defence Division and U.S.-based Sikorsky Plane say they’ve agreed on a plan to repair the autopilot downside that permits the CH-148 Cyclone’s pc to override the controls of its human pilots in sure conditions.
However practically three years after the glitch resulted in a Cyclone plunging into the Ionian Sea, killing all six Canadian Armed Forces members on board, it nonetheless stays unclear when that answer can be applied.
“Now that the technical necessities have been agreed upon by all events, Sikorsky and its subcontractors have proposed an preliminary implementation plan for Canada’s overview,” Defence Division spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande mentioned in an electronic mail.
“Discussions on this plan are ongoing, so it’s too early to debate price and schedule. We hope to have the plan finalized within the coming months, and can present extra particulars at the moment.”
One factor that has been finalized, nevertheless, is that Canada will foot the invoice.
Ms. Lamirande mentioned the deliberate software program upgrades fall outdoors the scope of the federal government’s present $9-billion contract with Sikorsky for the supply and upkeep of 28 Cyclones, which was signed in 2004.
“We’re dedicated to constantly enhancing the protection of our fleets and those that function and fly in them,” she mentioned.
Sikorsky spokesman John Dorrian mentioned the corporate, which has but to ship all 28 Cyclones practically 20 years after the unique contracts had been signed, is now ready for a brand new contract for the work.
“Following a contract award from DND, Sikorsky will full improvement, flight check and add of the enhancements to the CH-148 fleet,” Mr. Dorrian mentioned in an electronic mail.
The federal authorities has confronted requires urgency since two inner navy evaluations recognized the autopilot glitch as the first explanation for the lethal Cyclone crash on April 29, 2020.
The tragedy took the lives of Grasp Corporal Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Brenden MacDonald, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin and Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke. It additionally shook the nation throughout among the darkest days of the pandemic.
Navy commanders have repeatedly instructed the issue isn’t critical, saying the Royal Canadian Air Power has developed protocols and procedures to keep away from a repeat of that tragedy by coaching pilots to keep away from sure maneuvers.
“I’m very assured that we’re working inside that facet, inside a protected regime,” Air Power commander Lieutenant-Normal Eric Kenny mentioned in a latest interview. “In any other case, they wouldn’t be flying the plane.”
A lot of Cyclones have been deployed abroad on Canadian warships in recent times, the place they’re primarily used for search-and-rescue missions, surveillance and anti-submarine missions. Lt.- Gen. Kenny mentioned the helicopters have excelled.
But there have been issues, together with the invention of tail cracks on practically the entire of the fleet owing to a design flaw. Sikorsky has agreed to cowl the price of these repairs, however they’ve but to be applied.
The 26 Cyclones which have been delivered by Sikorsky up to now don’t have all of the capabilities that the American firm initially promised to incorporate.
Former Sea King squadron commander Larry McWha described the Cyclone fleet’s autopilot challenge as a critical software program design flaw or “gremlin” given the doubtless lethal penalties.
The actual fact the federal government is masking the invoice for the autopilot repair suggests Ottawa is taking not less than partial duty “for having specified, examined and accredited the unique design and management legal guidelines that led to the tragic lack of an plane and crew,” he added.