Author Topic: Cormorant problems  (Read 68502 times)

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Cormorant problems
« on: December 21, 2007, 16:06:07 »
The "private company" is IMP Aerospace, Halifax (reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act):
http://www.impgroup.com/aerospace/sar.htm
http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=aa10f92a-f147-4446-bb7f-ca7a49c914d5

Update: I was wrong about IMP, thanks to eurowing for the correction:
http://forums.army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,69118.msg652164.html#msg652164

Quote
A lack of parts has sidelined most of the air force's search-and-rescue helicopters on the West Coast, forcing maintenance crews to scavenge components from other choppers.

Two of the relatively new Cormorant helicopters at Canadian Forces Base Comox on Vancouver Island have been sidelined because of the parts issue. A third Cormorant is also not flying since technicians have been stripping parts off that aircraft to keep the base's two working $38-million aircraft airborne.

At one point, the Comox base only had one working Cormorant. The base handles search and rescue on the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains.

The lack of choppers has also hindered the training of pilots since spare Cormorants have not been available for use on practice missions. Some trainees have not flown since Oct. 19.

In the case of some of the needed Cormorant parts, existing components could be serviced and used by maintenance staff in Comox, but they are prevented from doing so by a contract the Defence Department signed with the private company doing the in-service support for the choppers. Instead, maintenance crews are required to send the part away for replacement, a process which causes lengthy delays.

But according to air force spokesman Capt. Jim Hutcheson, the situation is not affecting search-and-rescue activities. He said the base can call on Buffalo aircraft, Aurora patrol planes and Sea King helicopters, all based in B.C., to perform various roles. In addition, officials can call upon Griffon helicopters based in Edmonton and Hercules aircraft in Winnipeg.

Hutcheson said the military is working to correct the situation.

"Of the three Cormorants currently in various stages of maintenance, two of these are expected to be on line by this weekend," said Hutcheson.

"An additional Cormorant from eastern Canada is now in Kelowna, en route to Comox, bringing to four the number of functional Cormorants."

Mark
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« Last Edit: December 21, 2007, 16:45:38 by MarkOttawa »
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aesop081

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2007, 16:14:11 »
IMP, gotta love them

 ::)

Offline karl28

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2007, 16:22:18 »
         Just a question from a curious civy is it normal to have that many problems with a new helicopter or did the CF get stuck with a lemon ?

Offline eurowing

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2007, 16:24:03 »
The article is not quite as factual as indicated.  IMP is the maintenance company in Comox, the "private company" is AWIL, the aircraft manufacturer.  Transmissions and rotor heads can only be overhauled by AWIL.  Also any unusual snags need AWIL authority to rectify.  A process that frequently takes weeks or months. It is the same with most ac unless DND were to purchase the "data rights".  IMPs hands are as tied as mine would be.
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aesop081

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2007, 16:25:19 »
The article is not quite as factual as indicated.  IMP is the maintenance company in Comox, the "private company" is AWIL, the aircraft manufacturer.  Transmissions and rotor heads can only be overhauled by AWIL.  Also any unusual snags need AWIL authority to rectify.  A process that frequently takes weeks or months. It is the same with most ac unless DND were to purchase the "data rights".  IMPs hands are as tied as mine would be.

Thanks for the clarification.

I still have no love for IMP  ;D

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2007, 16:43:42 »
Sorry for mistake about IMP--a usually reliable and well-informed source had told me.

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Offline eurowing

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2007, 20:40:37 »
         Just a question from a curious civy is it normal to have that many problems with a new helicopter or did the CF get stuck with a lemon ?
As I see it, the main problem with the Cormorant is the lack of spare parts.  it is a complex machine and like all helos, maintenance intensive.  Some of those parts are wearing faster than expected, and this is not unusual.  I'll happily fly on the Cormorant.

I have no problem with IMP, most of the IMP techs in Comox seem to be retired military and very professional.  We are a team and they are a part of our Sqn. That may make a difference.  That being said, I would rather that the whole team be military for other reasons than their professionalism.  Mostly so the Fling-wing techs could have a reasonable easy posting and rest.  Right now, to keep fling wing tech experience they get to serve in Tac Hel or the maritime community, neither of which is easy duty compared to a SAR unit.  We work hard, but, mostly we stay home unless we go on a major search or send out a Mobile Repair Party to go rescue a disable ac.  These are rarely much more than two weeks.  Tac Hel and Maritime do the 6 month tours.  To rest these folks often means they are sent to the fixed wing side and that experience goes with them and fades away over time.  Anyway, it is a moot point.  We don't have the numbers of techs required to take on Cormorants + Chinooks + Cyclone etc.
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Offline Inch

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2007, 10:16:07 »
As a Sea King guy that gets saddled with primary SAR standby over more weekends than we should IMO, I have no love for the Cormorant. It's pretty sad that the newest helo in the fleet is being backed up and covered for by the oldest (and most ineffective if you believe the media) helo the CF has known. We're not without our problems either though, parts are becoming scarce for the Sea King as everyone knows but it also helps that we have 27 aircraft between 2 bases of operations compared to the 14 Cormorants between the 3 or 4 bases of ops. We should have gotten twice as many Cormorants for SAR. 
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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2007, 10:21:59 »
Does anyone here that works with/on/around/etc the Cormorants forsee similar problems arising with the Cyclone, once that fleet comes into service?
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Offline h3tacco

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2007, 10:46:31 »
My prediction is that the CH148 will have its share of problems during its introduction to service.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2007, 10:57:58 by h3tacco »

Offline kj_gully

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2007, 11:40:49 »
The common theme to several threads here is numbers of aircraft purchased. as I said b4, there weren't enough Cormorants bought in the first place. Remember, so Comox can have 5 helos (which equals about 1.75 flyers) Trenton has to fly Griffons. The guys at IMP want our shags to fly. They have to be at work anyways (no sliders for them) . Right now it is a very long dark tunnel we are looking down, with only a faint glimmer of light at the end as far as serviceability goes.

Offline Rescue Randy

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2007, 14:52:18 »
The problem is not the number of aircraft, it is a lack of support from the manufacturer.  Having more airframes to strip parts off is not a reasonable solution.  When we had 14 Labrador helicopters, we managed to provide service to four squadrons with predictable and acceptable availability.  With 14 Cormorants, we cannot even provide aircraft to three locations without cancelling the OTU.  I am not a fan of IMP, and initially their HQ was responsible for some of the problems, but now the issue lies squarely with AWIL.  The Cormorant was a developmental aircraft, and as such we knew it would take a couple of years to deliver the level of availability that we need - but after six years, that excuse is gone.  If we had parts, we would have aircraft - the number of airframes is not the issue.

Offline karl28

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2007, 16:07:55 »
eurowing

           Thanks for the reply it must be a pain that there is not enough to go around hopefully some day the gov will just give the military what it needs to get the job done .

Offline Ditch

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2007, 16:43:41 »
If we had parts, we would have aircraft - the number of airframes is not the issue.

I concur.

I would also say that a major hurdle we are facing right now is the corrosion that is being discovered in the fuel bays and also under the APU blanket.
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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2008, 12:09:45 »
Latest on problems (usual copyright disclaimer):

Report: Search choppers idled too much of time
Buy more Cormorants or cut back on inspections, Ottawa urge

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Canada/1088910.html

Quote
Canada should either buy more Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopters or cut back on inspections in the existing fleet to meet the life-saving role the aircraft was originally expected to perform, says a new report.

A study by Defence Research and Development Canada says the existing 14 CH-149 choppers are sidelined more than half of the time because of inspections and mechanical difficulties.

The current fleet would have to double in size to meet the federal government’s initial search-and-rescue coverage goals of having helicopters available at four bases across the country, says the report.

"It was found in this study that aircraft availability at the (main operating bases) actually varied from 37 per cent to 50 per cent and that at least 28 aircraft would be required to satisfy the availability requirements" as initially outlined by the government, said the report, completed in June.

When the Cormorants were introduced in 2002, replacing the nearly 40-year-old Labrador helicopters, it was expected each aircraft would be on the flight line 75 per cent of the time.

But there have been continuing problems, including persistent cracks in the tail rotor hubs and a critical shortage of spare parts, which has meant considerably less time in air.

Researchers ran a statistical simulation that concluded the air force could get by with the existing number of aircraft, but only if there were "a 25 per cent reduction in the durations of the major, minor and out-of-sequence inspections of the aircraft."

Last winter, the Defence Department categorically ruled out buying additional Cormorants [emphasis added--no shoot, there's no money]. A spokesman refused to say Wednesday whether the researchers’ findings changed any minds.

"It would be premature to answer as the air force is reviewing the findings and conclusions of the report," said Maj. Jim Hutcheson.

Long-range planning staff at the air force are examining the report, as well as engineers, who must assess the impact of an reduction in inspections.

"It’s the implications of the report’s conclusions that we need to take a closer look at," said Hutcheson.

Canada initially bought 15 Cormorants, a variant of the EH-101, from AgustaWestland but one was lost in a 2006 crash off Nova Scotia.

The availability problems forced the air force to withdraw the new helicopters from Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., and replace them in the search-and-rescue role with CH-146 Griffon utility helicopters, which are troop transports [not really--they are "utility" helicopters; Chinooks are real troop transports (amongst other things)].

At varying times over the last year, two other bases have had trouble keeping their Cormorants airborne.

Comox, B.C., was reduced to just one helicopter last December and Gander, N.L., went without any helicopters just a few weeks ago.

An internal Defence Department team made up of military officers also looked at the availability problem and concluded last February that the air force should boost its search-and-rescue fleet to 18 of the high-tech choppers.

Hutcheson said search-and-rescue operations have not been compromised because the air force can fall back on other helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

The Cormorants were declared fully operational in 2004, but have been plagued with a variety of technical issues.

Cracked windscreens and minor structural defects were among the initial reports, but the deficiencies became more serious with the discovery of cracks in the tail rotor assembly.

The aircraft-maker provided new hubs, but the cracking persisted — a defect that was blamed for crashes of EH-101 helicopters in service in other countries.

Corrosion was also detected near the fuel tanks last year.

Mark
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Offline dapaterson

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2008, 12:21:36 »
Mark:

"There's no money" is an old canard that's no longer true.  There's a lack of staff to conduct procurement - true.  There's a lack of aircrews - possibly true - I don't know.  But a lack of money?  Nope.  Once the 07/08 DPR comes out take a look at DND's total appropriations and respendable revenue versus actual expenditures - and remember to identify the "carry forward" of funds from 07/08 to 08/09.

Money is not an issue.
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Offline Ditch

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2008, 22:27:52 »
Moot point as AWIL no longer even makes our variant of the EH-101 anymore.  We can't buy new Cormorants because they don't exist to purchase.
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Offline karl28

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2008, 22:44:44 »
         So basically from what I understand from the above statement  is that the Canadian gov bought a helicopter that has some issues in the past  and now there is no way to get replacements if needed ?   If true than that was a sad way to spend limited resources .

Offline NFLD Sapper

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2008, 22:55:25 »
Moot point as AWIL no longer even makes our variant of the EH-101 anymore.  We can't buy new Cormorants because they don't exist to purchase.

AgustaWestland still makes the EH101 just under a different coding, now it is called the AW101
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Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2008, 23:10:57 »
Ahh... but we did not buy EH-101s.  We bought Cormorants.  There were only ever 15 made.  We have the 14 that remain on the planet.

Stupid way to spend money?  yep- but then there were not a bunch of good procurement decisions made 1993-2003, were there?

Offline NFLD Sapper

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2008, 23:19:31 »
Specs for the EH101 and the CH149 are identical (at least to me)

Specifications (Merlin HM1)
 
Crew: 4
Capacity:

24 seated troops or
45 standing troops or
16 stretchers with medics
Length: 22.81 m (74 ft 10 in)
Rotor diameter: 18.59 m (61 ft 0 in)
Height: 6.65 m (21 ft 10 in)
Disc area: 271 m² (2,992 ft²)
Empty weight: 10,500 kg (23,150 lb)
Useful load: 5,443 kg (12,000 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 15,600 kg (32,188 lb)
Powerplant: 3× Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM322-01 turboshafts, 1,725 kW (2,312 shp) each
Performance

Never exceed speed: 309 km/h (167 knots, 192 mph)
Range: 1,389 km (750 nm, 863 mi)
Service ceiling 4,575 m (15,000ft)
Rate of climb: 10.2 m/s (2,000 ft/min)
Disc loading: 53.8 kg/m² (11.01 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 284.9 W/kg (0.174 shp/lb)

General characteristics

Crew: 5
1-Aircraft Commander, 1-First Officer, 1-Flight Engineer, 2-SAR Techs
Capacity:

30 seated troops or
45 standing troops or
16 stretchers with medics
Length: 74 ft 10 in (22.81 m)
Rotor diameter: 61 ft 0 in (18.59 m)
Height: 21 ft 10 in (6.65 m)
Disc area: 2992 ft² (271 m²)
Empty weight: 23,150 lb (10,500 kg)
Useful load: 5,443 kg (12,000 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 32,188 lb (14,600 kg)
Powerplant: 3× General Electric T700-T6A1 turboshafts, 1,723 shp (1286 kW) each
Performance

Never exceed speed: 167 knots (192 mph, 309 km/h)
Range: 750 nm (863 mi, 1389 km)
Service ceiling 15,000ft (4575 m)
Rate of climb: 2000 ft/min (10.2 m/s)
Disc loading: 53.8 kg/m² (11.01 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 0.174 shp/lb (284.9 W/kg)


So shouldn't the parts be interchangable?
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Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2008, 23:36:09 »
Keeping in mind that I'm not a Cormorant guy, I've been told that there is basically little-to-no avionics commonality between our Cormorants and  any other EH-101 in the world.  We bought orphans.

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2008, 13:16:09 »
The CH-149 as it exists is not an EH-101.  Sure it may look the same - the user-machine interface is different enough that it is not the same.

We never got another Cormorant to replace 914 - because we couldn't.
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Offline JohnnyCanuck1977

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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2008, 13:51:18 »
I remember years ago discussing the purchase of these aircraft to replace the chinooks. At first I thought great about bloody time. But after some discussion with an AVN friend of mine I changed my mind. It would have been a good purchase if the government would have bought this airframe for both search and rescue and a maritime version for the ships.  That way we could have increased our SAR capabilities and replaced the Sea Kings, in addition having a common platform decreases the amount of time spent on training repair crews.  As it stands now we have techs for Sea Kings, Griffins, and Comorants and coming on line shortly the new Chinooks and Cyclones. We have a limited number of techs as it is, by having so many different airframes you make that pool of specialized personnel even smaller.


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Re: Cormorant problems
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2008, 14:09:49 »
The CH-149 as it exists is not an EH-101.  Sure it may look the same - the user-machine interface is different enough that it is not the same.

We never got another Cormorant to replace 914 - because we couldn't.


Fair enough, I learned something new.

:cheers:
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