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CH-148 Cyclone Progress

cudmore

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/sea-king-replacements-5-7b-cyclone-maritime-helicopters-lack-key-safety-requirement-1.2684036

The Conservative government has agreed to accept new helicopters to replace Canada's 50-year-old fleet of Sea Kings even though they don't meet a key requirement recommended for marine helicopters by Canada's air safety investigator, CBC News has learned.
The government announced Wednesday it had finally signed a renegotiated contract with helicopter-maker Sikorsky for 28 new CH-148 Cyclone helicopters at a cost of $5.7 billion.

Now, CBC News has learned the details of what the government has agreed to forego in order to conclude a long-awaited new deal with Sikorsky, and it includes a formerly mandatory safety measure: a 30-minute run-dry standard for its main gear box.

The importance of the ability to fly for 30 minutes after a loss of lubrication in the main gear box was reinforced by an investigation into a deadly 2009 crash of a Sikorsky-built helicopter.

The gearbox is a kind of linkage between the helicopters engines and its rotor system. It's packed with lubricating oil that cools the gears and keeps power flowing to the rotors. If a helicopter loses oil in its main gearbox, the system will get too hot and either seize up or otherwise fail. That would lead to a loss of power in the rotor, forcing a helicopter from the sky.

A helicopter that meets the run-dry standard can continue flying for 30 minutes even if there's no oil in the main gear box — a critical feature for helicopters flying hundreds of kilometres out to sea.

"I am shocked, this is a very dangerous thing," said Jack Harris, the NDP's defence critic.

"This is a major safety requirement ... necessary for the safety of the aircraft operating in the maritime environment.

"This is a significant safety issue."

Mandatory requirement in original bids

Sikorsky has struggled for years against the allegation its main gearbox could not meet that 30-minute standard.

It was a mandatory requirement in the 2004 competition held to determine which helicopter would best serve Canada's interests.

Sikorsky won that competition, besting the AW 101, a helicopter that meets the 30-minute standard and flies search and rescue for the Canadian military today.

Critics suggest if Sikorsky could not meet that requirement, it ought not to have won the competition to replace Canada's Sea Kings in the first place.

"There are other helicopters that can meet that standard," Jack Harris said. "These guys signed a contract with this as a requirement. They said they could do it."

In an e-mail, Defence Department spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said the main gearbox on Canada's new Cyclones is designed to ensure the total loss of oil lubrication is "very remote."

"The Cyclone gear box lubrication system has many safety features, including a bypass valve than can be used to isolate the gearbox case from the oil cooler in the unlikely event of an external leak, to prevent further loss of transmission oil," Lemire said.

Since Canada first signed with Sikorsky in 2004, the American company has been over budget and years behind schedule.

Last year, the government even took the unprecedented step of announcing it might drop Sikorsky and began looking at other choppers. But a consultant's report suggested the government recognize Sikorsky was essentially developing a military helicopter for Canada and accept it might have to let some promised items slip.

The government accepted that advice and the announcement last week was the conclusion of a process that saw the government reveal its bottom line on its requirements and Sikorsky lay out realistic capabilities and timelines.

In the end, the Cyclone helicopters Canada will get will feature several trade-offs when compared to the helicopter the government ordered a decade ago.

Government makes concessions

The 30-minute run-dry capability is just one of seven concessions the government has made.

The others include:

The ability to secure the helicopter's ramp in various positions during flight.
Crew comfort systems during extreme temperature operations.
Unobstructed hand and foot holds for technicians to conduct maintenance.
The ability to self start in very cold weather.
Cockpit ergonomics factors.
A system to automatically deploy personnel life rafts in emergency situations.
Lemire said the air force accepted those concessions because "there is no impact to overall operational capabilities and will not risk crew safety."

But it's hard to see how that's the case.

Sikorsky refers to Canada's Cyclone helicopters as H-92s. The H is used to identify the helicopter as a military aircraft. The H-92s are militarized and upgraded versions of Sikorsky's civilian S-92s.

When that lineage is understood, the lack of run-dry becomes more of a concern.

17 died in crash of Cougar S-92

In 2009, a Sikorsky-built Cougar Helicopter S-92 on the way from St. John's, N.L., to an offshore oil platform crashed into the sea when two titanium studs securing the main gearbox failed, causing a total loss of lubrication. All but one of the eighteen people aboard died.

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board investigation made several recommendations but it also highlighted the problem with the helicopter's failure to meet that 30-minute run-dry certification.

"We recommend that all Category A helicopters, including the S-92, should be able to fly for at least 30 minutes following a massive loss of main gearbox oil," TSB chair Wendy Tadros told reporters in 2011.

Military helicopters are subject to different operating standards than civilian choppers, but in this case the government says Canada's upgraded and militarized versions of the S-92 will meet civilian airworthiness regulations.

That American standard, called FAR Part 29, allows for Sikorsky's design to fly, as it provides for an alternative arrangement to a run-dry requirement that allegedly makes the total loss of lubrication "extremely remote."

It's that standard defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire says Canada is now relying on.

"Through extensive testing, proper operating procedures will be established to satisfy the required airworthiness regulations, including the civil run-dry requirement, to ensure the safety of the crew and aircraft," Lemire said.

Following Tadros' investigation of the Cougar crash, the TSB chair said that extremely remote standard was not good enough.

"The 30-minute requirement is negated by the 'extremely remote' provision. Therefore, (the provision) needs to go. It's as simple as that."

The TSB urged U.S. regulators to amend the standard, pointing out other helicopter-makers were designing aircraft that could meet the 30-minute standard.

Qualification under that FAA regulation is what both the government of Canada and Sikorsky are relying on in order to get their deal done.

"Sikorsky and the Canadian government have agreed on all technical requirements for the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter," says Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson. "The gearbox meets all FAR Part 29 requirements by the FAA, including those related to loss of primary lubrication."
 

Loachman

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If the Sikorsky solution ends up being at least equal to a run-dry requirement, then I see that as satisfactory. A one-size-fits-all requirement (thirty-minute run-dry) is not necessarily the best.

Regardless, a transmission failure is probably the worst thing that can happen to one in a helicopter, other than catastrophic mid-air disintegration, massive fire, collision, twenty-bazillion volt wire strike, being hit by multiple RPG rounds etcetera etcetera.

I've never worried about any of those, either.

Preventing loss of oil in the first place would be better than relying on a run-dry capability.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Agreed, but no doubt they claimed that it was a remote possibility for the Super Puma's and S-92's as well. I guess there is remote and then there is "really remote".
 

Loachman

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The Emergency pages in checklists are based upon designers' best estimates of things that may go wrong, and are then amended each time some unforeseen tragedy or near-tragedy occurs - and these can occur at any point over a design's career.

On 12 June 1985, five days after returning from RV85 in Wainwright, I flew Kiowa 136258 from Petawawa to Downsview and back, accompanied by another Pilot. It performed flawlessly.

Upon our return, I discovered that I was on the schedule to fly that night. Our usual nightflying nights were Thursdays, and this was a Wednesday, so that was unusual. I also had way more night than needed to meet our quarterly minima due to the exercise, and I was planning to visit the Air Cadet Squadron in Pembroke as I was their Liaison Officer and I had not been able to drop in for about two months. I had no difficulty weaselling out of the trip as a result.

I would have flown the same machine that night, had I gone.

My Flight Commander, Major Bob Connell, took it instead. His Observer was Sergeant Henry Anderson.

They did not return. The wreckage was found floating on and at the bottom of a small lake in Quebec north of Pembroke the next morning.

The investigation took almost nine months.

The spragg clutch, part of the freewheeling unit which essentially connects the engine to the transmission, was ultimately found to be three ten-thousandths of an inch out-of-round. The allowable tolerance was two ten-thousandths of an inch. The spragg clutch began slipping intermittently, which put severe torque spikes on the driveshaft and soon caused it to break which resulted in complete loss of power to the transmission and rotor system even though the engine was still running.

An immediate autorotation was required in order to have any hope of survival, but they were in pitch blackness with no outside references whatsoever over hills, trees, and lakes and nobody would ever want to have to autorotate under those circumstances. With an operational engine, nobody would have considered doing so to be of any value anyway. The torque spikes had also been causing a rapid and jerky yaw as the tailrotor sped up and slowed down, so they had been misled into believing that they had a tailrotor problem of some sort. Within about thirty seconds of the driveshaft failure, they hit the water hard and fast. It took a week to find their bodies in the murk and silt - the lake was sixty feet deep at that point and visibility was no more than one foot.

The freewheeling unit had been on the helicopter for about three hundred hours, or about eight months of normal use of the machine.

The failure resulted in an immediate addition to the checklist emergencies and a subsequent addition of a low-rotor-RPM audio warning to the fleet.

The fatal part did not meet one of its specifications, and two good men died because of an error smaller than the thickness of a human hair.

The point of this tale is to illustrate that there are a huge number of unforeseen, and otherwise trivial, things that can go wrong. Such failures are, fortunately, extremely rare. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hours had been accumulated by many thousands of Kiowas and Jet Rangers (the civ version) around the world to that point, and hundreds of thousands more in the twenty-nine years since, and that had never happened before and has not since.

The corrective measures that Sikorsky has taken since the Cougar crash will likely prevent a recurrence. I have every confidence that that lesson has been learned and applied and we will not see that problem again.

Far bigger threats are weather, environment, and a variety of human factors (fatigue, disorientation, misjudgment, expectation, distraction, complacency and a bunch of others).

One's machine seldom lets one down.
 

FSTO

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Any news on the Cyclone front? Are there anymore at Shearwater? Any more testing off ships?
 

donaldk

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HMCS Halifax is the next test mule on the ship side.  Work is currently ongoing to have her hangar converted.

 

SeaKingTacco

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Cyclones are flying on a daily basis in Sheawater. We just don't own them, yet.
 

FSTO

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SeaKingTacco said:
Cyclones are flying on a daily basis in Sheawater. We just don't own them, yet.

Any timeline on a transfer of ownership? 2015, 16, 17?
 

h3tacco

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Formal acceptance is currently on track for June 2015. There has been a lot recently activity to support this, including RCAF aircrew and technician training in Shearwater and flight test activity at various locations in Canada and the US.

Once formal acceptance has started there will be a bit of delay before the first operational detachments start deploying. However, there will likely be some deployments on large exercises before IOC is declared.
 

FSTO

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h3tacco said:
Formal acceptance is currently on track for June 2015. There has been a lot recently activity to support this, including RCAF aircrew and technician training in Shearwater and flight test activity at various locations in Canada and the US.

Once formally acceptance has started there will be a bit of delay before the first operational detachments start deploying. However, there will likely be some deployments on large exercises before IOC is declared.
Good to hear!
Maybe I'll see IOC before I retire!!!
 

Cdn Blackshirt

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h3tacco said:
Formal acceptance is currently on track for June 2015. There has been a lot recently activity to support this, including RCAF aircrew and technician training in Shearwater and flight test activity at various locations in Canada and the US.

Once formal acceptance has started there will be a bit of delay before the first operational detachments start deploying. However, there will likely be some deployments on large exercises before IOC is declared.

Sorry h3tacco, but what does "formal acceptance" mean?

That we've received and tested a model and now authorize it for production?


Thanks in advance, Matthew. :salute:
 

h3tacco

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Cdn Blackshirt,

Sorry for the confusion. Formal Acceptance, while not the actual contractual language, just means we are accepting that all the contractual requirements are in place for Canada to pay Sikorsky for the delivery of the aircraft. For Canada to accept the aircraft there are a number of contractual steps that need to be completed such as: first cadre of aircrew and maintainers trained, maintenance program approved, flight manuals approved, aircraft technically certified, etc...

Basically by June 2015 the first batch of aircraft will be Canadian owned and operated by Canadian aircrew and maintainers. They will be still need to go through some operational testing before IOC can be declared. Operational testing, however, will be conducted by RCAF crews and maintainers vice the current developmental testing which is being conducted with mixed contractor/RCAF crews and Sikorsky maintenance.

H3
 

MilEME09

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interesting story today I found related to Sikorsky, looks like UTC is looking to sell them off, probably won't effect the Cyclone project but an interesting development. Though I doubt an Canadian company would have the funds to buy them up, that is if Sikorsky doesn't decide to go it alone.



http://www.defensenews.com/story/breaking-news/2015/03/12/report-utc-exploring-sikorsky-spinoff/70205612/
 

Retired AF Guy

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The latest update on the status of the CH-148 Cyclone, courtesy of the Halifax Chronicle Herald. Re-produced under the usual provisions of the Copyright Act.

Cyclone choppers to land starting in June — feds
PAUL McLEOD OTTAWA BUREAU
Published April 10, 2015 - 7:48pm

The CH-148 Cyclone helicopters have still not been accepted by Canada but the government says they will start to be delivered in June, one year after the government renegotiated its contract for the choppers.

Four of the aircraft are currently housed at 12 Wing Shearwater, and Royal Canadian Air Force pilots are being trained on them.

The helicopters have gone to sea on Halifax-class frigates for trials, but National Defence is not saying how they’re performing.

“It is premature to report on the Cyclone’s performance in trials,” said spokeswoman Ashley Lemire.

After years of delay, last June the Harper government signed a renegotiated deal with Sikorsky Aircraft for the $7.6-billion program. The government accepted certain concessions on the requirements for the 28 aircraft.

National Defence says Sikorsky aircraft will be accepted with enough capabilities to allow for the retirement of the 50-year-old Sea King helicopters in 2015.

But this milestone will kick off a new program to enhance the Cyclones so that they are fully capable, beginning in 2018.

The choppers were initially supposed to be delivered in 2012, but disputes between the company and the government delayed the process.

In its 2014-15 annual report, Sikorsky’s parent company, United Technologies Corp., reported that it sold $1.3 billion of inventory to the Canadian government, including capitalized contract development costs.

But the contract has been an albatross for the company; the renegotiation resulted in a net drop of $438 million on the contract.

The renegotiated deal extends Sikorsky’s maintenance contract for the choppers by a decade until 2038. The government claimed this new provision as a win because the maintenance rates are based on 2004 figures.

Article Link
 

Eye In The Sky

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Fully capable in 3 years?  My sympathies to the MH folks living thru what appears to be a clusterfuck.
 

h3tacco

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Your sympathies are appreciated but a lot of the issues are similar to the Block III Aurora. Fully capable is often tossed around when it should read fully contract compliant. There will be a lot of growing pains but there will be a lot of capability sooner.
 
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