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Canada’s new fleet of navy helicopters need engine changes: subcontractor

Oct. 27, 2008, Halifax - Canada's new fleet of maritime helicopters, already projected to be about 20 months behind schedule, are going to need added engine horsepower because they're heavier than originally expected.


October 27, 2008
By Michael Tutton

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Oct. 27, 2008, Halifax – Canada's new fleet of maritime helicopters, already projected to be about 20 months behind schedule, are going to need added engine horsepower because they're heavier than originally expected, says a company involved in the project.

A spokesman for General Electric says the single engines being
built for the Sikorsky Cyclones, also known as the MH-92, are going
to be "a variation'' of an existing design it has worked on over
the past few years.

"A more powerful engine … is required for the MH-92 because
the helicopter is heavier than was intended and, therefore, we are
assembling an engine that will deliver more power for the maritime
helicopter program,'' said Daniel Verrault, who represents General
Electric,  a subcontractor on the project, in Ottawa.

He estimated that 200 to 250 additional horsepower will be needed
for the CT7-8A1 engine, saying that was an increase of about nine
per cent from the original specifications for the turboprop. There
are also going to be software revisions to change the speed of the
blades.

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Verrault said in a recent interview that he doesn't believe this
will add further delays in delivering the helicopter, which Defence
Minister Peter MacKay has said will be in the middle of 2010, about
20 months behind schedule.

"This will require a few months,'' said Verrault of the engine
upgrade.

"What we are envisioning is that we will be delivering engines
and, if needed, we could do the retrofit as the engine arrives on
the helicopter in the field.''

Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson had no comment on the change.

A spokesman for MacKay said the change won't mean any further
delay.

"There are modifications being considered, not a new engine …
further to that we don't anticipate any further delay,'' said Dan
Dugas.

But some outside experts say it's then an open question on how
long it takes to tune the helicopter to the latest variation of the
engine.

Richard Aboulafia, a vice president with Teal Corp., an aerospace
and defence consultancy in Fairfax, Va., said it's difficult to
predict how long it will take Sikorsky to adjust the airframe to the
engine.

"It could be they drop the new engine in and it functions like
the old one. It could be there are myriad complications,'' he said. 
There are many examples of how the work can “cascade,'' he said,
adding that some issues can be worked out in advance with computers.

"You might need to tweak the gearbox and the whole transmission
system. You might have to see how the vibrations work out. There are
a lot of things,'' he said.

The Cyclone helicopters were announced with considerable fanfare
over four years ago as the replacement for Canada's geriatric fleet
of Sea Kings.

They were originally due to be delivered in November of this
year.

MacKay has also referred to the entire contract as the “worst
debacle in Canadian procurement history,'' blaming former prime
minister Jean Chretien for his decision in 1993 to cancel the
purchase of a fleet of Agusta Westland maritime helicopters the
Tories had ordered.

A decade later, after numerous reworkings of the original
specifications, the Liberal government chose the Sikorsky
alternative, despite criticisms the Cyclone was a new and untested
design and would be unlikely to meet deadlines.

It remains unclear how much the change to the engines may cost
and who will pay for them.

Verrault said General Electric is in discussion with Sikorsky
over the final bill.

"Yes, we are in the process of finalizing these details and
coming up with a cost,'' he said.

THE CANADIAN PRESS


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