(Halifax) The extent and cost of fixing the software that caused a malfunctioning Canadian Armed Forces naval helicopter that killed all six crew members to crash will not be known until spring.
A DND spokesperson said in a recent email that the process is ongoing, but will continue until a review is completed by Sikorsky, maker of the Cyclone CH-148, before costs are assessed and a timeline is set.
Two military investigations have found that a software glitch played a major role in the crash of a deadly Hurricane helicopter off the coast of Greece last year.
Experts told the Canadian press in July that the flawed software issue was badly needed. They expressed concerns about the possibility of further fatal accidents such as the one that occurred in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Hurricane Fleet is facing more problems. Cracks have recently been discovered in the tails of most aircraft. About 19 helicopters need repair.
The Flight Safety Report listed several recommendations, including the need to modify the flight control program.
Andrew McKelvey, a national defense spokesman, said the reforms would require two phases.
“The first stage is to determine the extent of changes that need to be made to follow up on the report’s recommendations. This will be completed in the spring of 2022,” he wrote to the Canadian press.
The timing of the second stage depends on the extent of repairs to be made.
According to experts consulted by The Canadian Press, the solution will not just be to modify pilot training or limit permitted maneuvers.
Mary Cummings of Duke University said the pilot’s inability to regain control of the software plane was “a very serious problem that must be addressed immediately.”
Sikorsky spokesman John Dorian said the company is working with the Royal Canadian Air Force “to identify improvements to the CH-148 flight control system.”
Mr. Dorian cautioned that this process could lead to new findings that require further modification.
Typhoons are usually deployed aboard Canadian frigates and are used for search and rescue, surveillance, and anti-submarine warfare.
Greg Jamieson of the University of Toronto believes that a one-year period to determine the extent of changes in a relatively new flight control system “is a reasonable amount of time”.
“If the scope of the modifications is large, it may raise questions about the entire certification process of these devices, especially since it has been judged that the biased behavior of the Sikorsky autopilot is not a risk,” he said.
Michael Byers of the University of British Columbia has criticized the Canadian Armed Forces for endangering the lives of their crews by using helicopters with safety issues.
“Ording crews not to perform certain maneuvers is simply not acceptable because it increases the chances of human error or collapse. Hurricanes must remain on the ground until Sikorsky finally fixes the software problem.”
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