Canada and its Cormorants again

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Canada and its Cormorants again

Postby rattler » Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:43 pm

SOURCE: Victoria Times Colonist
DATE: FEB 07, 2008
BY: Rob Shaw

Woes of Cormorant helicopters hinder rescues, air force chief says
Repair problems mean too few choppers are ready to fly, general complains

VICTORIA -- The Canadian air force is now admitting search and rescue operations across the country have been hindered by constant problems maintaining and repairing its fleet of Cormorant helicopters.

The military needs at least nine of its 15 Cormorant helicopters to be able to fly for rescue missions each day at bases in Comox, Trenton, Ont., Greenwood, N.S., and Gander, N.L.

But due to problems getting parts and servicing, the military is able to get only about six helicopters into flight shape daily, air force chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Angus Watt told the Times Colonist during an editorial board meeting yesterday.

Because of parts and maintenance problems, only six of the military's 15 Cormorant rescue helicopters are typically available for duty each day.

"It is not ideal," Watt said. "I'm not happy with the level of serviceability, but we are working to make it better."

In the meantime, the military is manning three bases with Cormorants and using Griffon helicopters at CFB Trenton. The CH-146 Griffons are smaller and older than the Cormorants.

The air force has repeatedly insisted -- as recently as December -- that search and rescue operations were not affected by the helicopter problems because the Griffons and other planes could cover duties.

"Everybody is working hard to make the system better. It's not where it should be in terms of overall ability, but it is where it should be in terms of competence. The crews remain world class," said Watt.

Canada paid $750 million for the new Cormorants to replace its aging Labradors in 2001.

Watt said he is unhappy with the lack of support Canada has received from AgustaWestland, the company that built the helicopters. Since buying them, along with a parts shortage, the military has found cracks in the tail rotor area, corrosion around the fuel tanks, premature wearing on the bearings for some controls, structural cracks and malfunctioning computers and radios. At times, the Cormorants have been restricted to essential mission flights.

One of the five Cormorants stationed at CFB Comox remains stripped for parts just to keep the others flying. Another is being repaired for rust damage in Trenton.

The military has expressed its dissatisfaction to AgustaWestland, and the company has promised improved services later this year and next, Watt said.

But Watt rejected recommendations from an internal military team that the air force needs three more Cormorants. He said fixing the problems in the existing fleet should be the priority.

"How can I go to the Treasury Board and say I have purchased a substandard aircraft, which is not achieving the serviceability I need, and I need you to buy more of them?" Watt asked.

The three-star general, who reports directly to the chief of defence staff, spent yesterday visiting 19 Wing at CFB Comox and 443 Squadron in Patricia Bay, where he flew Sea Kings.

CFB Comox remains the major air force presence on the West Coast, he said, and the launching pad for rescue missions in B.C. and the Yukon. It is possible future squadrons of unmanned aerial drones will be stationed there, but a final decision has not been made, Watt said.

"In general I think the air force is in pretty good shape," he said. "We are revitalizing our capabilities in a way we haven't done in a generation."
Sincere condolences to all Norwegians! I guess you will need some aquevit to get over this.

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Re: Canada and its Cormorants again

Postby Princess Leia » Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:26 am

Only the best for hauling our next president!
May a plethora of uncultivated palaeontologists raise the dead in a way that makes your blood boil

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Re: Canada and its Cormorants again

Postby Cam » Sat Feb 09, 2008 5:58 am

AgustaWestland can shove it. I don't know what the problem is? I thought they MADE helicopters....after this, they should get into the static display business for the CF.

You should all know by please stop asking.

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