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Mon, Jul 09, 2012

Canada Still Having Trouble Getting Sea King Replacement Aircraft

Sikorsky Has Delayed Delivery Of CH-148 Cyclone Helos

For more than 25 years, the Canadian government has been working to replace its aging fleet of Sea King helicopters. It had decided to purchase 28 Sikorsky CH-148 helicopters (pictured in file photo), for which the Liberal government in power in 2004 signed an agreement.

Deliveries were to begin in 2008, but the program has been delayed numerous times, most recently by the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the same year deliveries were supposed to begin. That contract extension was to have had deliveries underway in June of this year, as Sikorsky worked through technology issues which have delayed certification of the aircraft.

Now, the Globe and Mail newspaper reports that the contract has been pushed back again, and no official date has been put forth for the first Cyclones to be delivered.

The government of Brian Mulroney had originally signed a contract for the AgustaWestland EH-101 helicopter back in the mid-1980s. But in 1993, Liberal Prime Minister Jean Cretien tossed out that contract, to the tune of $487 million (Canadian) for Canadian taxpayers.

Then came the contract with Sikorsky, as the Sea Kings became increasingly more difficult to keep flying. Now, with another indefinite contract extension, the Canadian Parliament is calling on the government to impose stiff fines against the helicopter company.

Sikorsky has delivered neither the final version of the Cyclone, or an "interim" version which was intended to be a training aircraft. The Canadian government has already imposed $8 million in penalties on Sikorsky over the deal. And the meter is running.



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