Ottawa on hook for software glitch that caused deadly military helicopter crash
A still-unresolved software problem identified as the main cause of a deadly military helicopter crash off the coast of Greece in 2020 will end up being fixed on Ottawa’s dime — at a yet-to-be-determined cost and time.
The Defence Department and U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft say they have agreed on a plan to fix the autopilot problem that allows the CH-148 Cyclone’s computer to override the controls of its human pilots in certain situations.
But nearly three years after the glitch resulted in a Cyclone plunging into the Ionian Sea, killing all six Canadian Armed Forces members on board, it still remains unclear when that solution will be implemented.
“Now that the technical requirements have been agreed upon by all parties, Sikorsky and its subcontractors have proposed an initial implementation plan for Canada’s review,” Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said in an email.
“Discussions on this plan are ongoing, so it’s too early to discuss cost and schedule. We hope to have the plan finalized in the coming months, and will provide more details at that time.”
One thing that has been finalized, however, is that Canada will foot the bill.
Lamirande said the planned software upgrades fall outside the scope of the government’s existing $9-billion contract with Sikorsky for the delivery and maintenance of 28 Cyclones, which was signed in 2004.
“We are committed to continuously improving the safety of our fleets and those who operate and fly in them,” she said.
Sikorsky spokesman John Dorrian said the company, which has yet to deliver all 28 Cyclones nearly 20 years after the original contracts were signed, is now waiting for a new contract for the work.
“Following a contract award from DND, Sikorsky will complete development, flight test and upload of the enhancements to the CH-148 fleet,” Dorrian said in an email.
The federal government has faced calls for urgency since two internal military reviews identified the autopilot glitch as the primary cause of the deadly Cyclone crash on April 29, 2020.
The tragedy took the lives of Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, Capt. Kevin Hagen, Capt. Brenden MacDonald, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin and Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke. It also shook the nation during some of the darkest days of the pandemic.
Military commanders have repeatedly suggested the problem isn’t serious, saying the Royal Canadian Air Force has developed protocols and procedures to avoid a repeat of that tragedy by training pilots to avoid certain manoeuvres.
“I’m very confident that we’re operating within that aspect, within a safe regime,” Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Eric Kenny said in a recent interview. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be flying the aircraft.”
A number of Cyclones have been deployed overseas on Canadian warships in recent years, where they are primarily used for search-and-rescue missions, surveillance and anti-submarine missions. Kenny said the helicopters have excelled.
Yet there have been problems, including the discovery of tail cracks on nearly the whole of the fleet due to a design flaw. Sikorsky has agreed to cover the cost of those repairs, but they have yet to be implemented.
The 26 Cyclones that have been delivered by Sikorsky so far don’t have all the capabilities that the American company originally promised to include.
Former Sea King squadron commander Larry McWha described the Cyclone fleet’s autopilot issue as a serious software design flaw or “gremlin” given the potentially deadly consequences.
The fact the government is covering the bill for the autopilot fix suggests Ottawa is taking at least partial responsibility “for having specified, tested and approved the original design and control laws that led to the tragic loss of an aircraft and crew,” he added.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2023.
Biden in Canada: Replay coverage of the U.S. president's trip – CTV News
After a day of meetings on Parliament Hill, U.S President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced updates on various cross-border issues. These include plans to bolster Norad and expand the Safe Third Country Agreement.
CTVNews.ca breaks down Biden’s first presidential visit to Canada, as it happened. Scroll down for our reporters’ real-time coverage of the second day of Biden’s trip to Canada as it unfolded.
Canadians can also access the latest stories on Biden’s trip via CTV News’ social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Canada extends support for those fleeing Russia's illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine – Canada.ca
March 22, 2023—Ottawa—As Russia continues its illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, Canada will remain steadfast in its support for those who have been forced to flee. This includes helping people find a temporary safe haven in Canada and providing them with the support they need.
Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that the Government of Canada will extend the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). This means that:
- Ukrainians and their family members will have until July 15, 2023, to apply overseas for a CUAET visa free of charge;
- Anyone holding a CUAET visa will have until March 31, 2024, to travel to Canada under the special measures; and
- CUAET holders who are already here in Canada will have until March 31, 2024, to extend or adjust their temporary status through these measures, free of charge.
Settlement services will remain available to Ukrainians and their family members after they arrive so that they can fully participate in Canadian communities while they are here. Ukrainians and their family members will also continue to benefit from the one-time transitional financial support, as well as from access to emergency accommodations for up to 2 weeks, if needed after they arrive in Canada.
The Government of Canada continues to work closely with provincial, territorial and municipal partners, as well as settlement service providers and the Ukrainian-Canadian community, to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s illegal war.
These measures build on the Government of Canada’s previous actions to support Ukraine’s security and resilience and to hold Russia accountable for its atrocities and crimes. We are closely monitoring the ongoing needs of Ukrainians and will adapt our response as needed.
Calling for closer Canada-U.S. ties, Biden says 'our destinies are intertwined and they're inseparable' – CBC.ca
U.S. President Joe Biden delivered an impassioned speech in the House of Commons Friday, saying the Canada-U.S. relationship has never been stronger while calling for even closer ties to take on the challenges of our times.
Standing in front of the Speaker’s chair as hundreds of MPs, senators and dignitaries looked on, Biden said Canadians and Americans are “two people” that “share one heart” — bound together not only by geography and history but shared democratic values.
In his nearly 40-minute speech, Biden said that, together, the two countries are an unstoppable force that can tackle climate change, a changing economy and an increasingly dangerous world, where authoritarian countries like Russia are bent on defying international norms.
The partnership, he said, extends to space — three Americans and a Canadian will soon be headed for the moon as part of the NASA Artemis program.
“Our destinies are intertwined and they’re inseparable,” Biden said.
“I mean this from the bottom of my heart. There is no more reliable ally, no more steady friend. And today I say to you, you will always be able to count on the United States of America.”
WATCH: We will find ‘no more steady friend’ than Canada: Biden
Together, Biden said, Canada and the U.S. will confront the “scourge” of opioid overdoses.
He vowed to partner with Mexico to tackle the illicit trade in fentanyl, which has wreaked havoc on vulnerable communities throughout North America.
Trudeau, Biden reach agreements during two-day visit
- Canada and the U.S. will expand the Safe Third Country Agreement to the entire land border — a move designed to halt illegal border crossing by migrants. Canada will instead accept up to 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere through legal channels.
- Canada will invest $420 million to protect the Great Lakes as part of a binational effort to defend one of the world’s largest sources of freshwater.
- Canada made a $7.3 billion commitment to air defence to support the continued functioning of NORAD.
- Canada agreed to provide $100 million to support the Haitian police.
- The U.S. will commit roughly $250 million to Canadian and U.S. companies that mine and process critical minerals for electric vehicles and stationary storage batteries.
- Canada and New York-based IBM signed a deal to expand domestic research and development and advanced packaging of semiconductors.
- Biden expressed support for Canada joining the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
Referencing a deal on migrants, Biden said Canada and the U.S. will safely resettle asylum seekers through a new, more organized process that discourages illegal immigration.
“We believe to our core that every single person deserves to live in dignity, safety and rise as high as their dreams can carry them,” Biden said.
On semiconductors, critical minerals, advanced manufacturing and a pivot to a cleaner, greener economy, Biden said Canada and the U.S. are up to the challenge — ready to work in concert to challenge the dominance of countries like China in these areas.
“After two years of COVID, people began to even wonder, ‘Can we still do big things?’ I say we sure in hell can,” Biden said to thunderous applause from the assembled crowd.
While there are irritants in any relationship, Biden said, Canada and the U.S. are determined to “solve our differences in friendship and with good will, because we both understand our interests are fundamentally aligned.”
WATCH: ‘I like your teams, except the Leafs’: Biden addresses Parliament
Biden joked about the Toronto Maple Leafs (“I like your teams, except the Leafs,” he said to laughter and scattered boos from the crowd) and razzed some MPs who failed to stand and applaud after he praised Canada and the U.S. for having gender equal cabinets.
“Even if you don’t agree guys, I’d stand up,” he said.
He also raised a recent Gallup poll that found Americans have an overwhelmingly positive view of Canadians.
The poll found 88 per cent of U.S. respondents think highly of their neighbours to the north — up from 87 per cent last year. “I take credit for that one point,” Biden said.
In his introductory speech, Trudeau hit many of the same points. He called on Canadians and Americans to come together as storm clouds gather in other parts of the world.
“It has never been clearer that everything is interwoven,” he said. “Economic policy is climate policy is security policy. People need us to think strategically and act with urgency, and that is exactly what brings us together today.”
WATCH: U.S.-Canada border is a ‘meeting place rather than dividing line’: Trudeau
As conflict rages in Europe and inflation bears down on working people, Trudeau said the two countries have faced all of this before.
Citing a 1987 address by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, who called the Canada-U.S. border a “meeting place rather than a dividing line,” Trudeau said the border is “not just a place where we meet each other. It’s a place where we will meet the moment.”
Touting recent investments in a Michelin tire plant in Nova Scotia, and plans to retool the Defasco steel factory in Hamilton, Ont., Trudeau said Canada is ready to work with the U.S. to take on economic competition from “an increasingly assertive China.”
“We must continue to show resilience, perseverance and strength,” Trudeau said, citing the example of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadians who suffered arbitrary detention in China for more than 1,000 days.
Kovrig and Spavor were on hand in the Commons for Friday’s events. Trudeau thanked Biden for his help in securing their release.
With two of its citizens in captivity, Trudeau said, Canada did “not capitulate, we did not abandon our values — we doubled down. We rallied our allies. The rule of law prevailed and the Michaels came home.”
“God bless ya,” Biden said as he recognized Spavor and Kovrig in the gallery above.
Earlier today, Biden was escorted by Trudeau into the West Block where he briefly greeted dignitaries, including Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, other party leaders, senators, the House of Commons Speaker and parliamentary clerks.
Poilievre introduced himself as the leader of his “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition,” which prompted Biden to quip, “Loyal, huh?”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May then handed a bemused Biden a chocolate bar made by a Syrian refugee before he was whisked away for a one-on-one meeting with Trudeau.
The busy day followed an intimate gathering last night at Trudeau’s Ottawa home, Rideau Cottage. Trudeau, with his wife Sophie and their three kids, hosted the president and his wife, Jill.
This is the first non-summit overnight visit by a U.S. president in nearly two decades.
It was billed as a chance for Biden and Trudeau to continue their efforts to renew the bilateral relationship, which was marked by some tension in recent years.
The Trump years were a trying time for Canadian officials.
But Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, promote protectionist policies like Buy American and withhold some vaccine supplies were also irritants in the early days of his presidency.
Since then, there’s been meaningful progress on key files: a deal to protect the NEXUS trusted traveller program and a plan to include Canadian-made vehicles in a U.S. electric vehicle tax credit program.
WATCH: U.S. and Canada reach deal on closing Roxham Road border crossing:
And now there is a deal in hand that will allow Canada to close the Roxham Road site, where tens of thousands of refugee claimants have crossed the border irregularly in recent years — a political headache for Trudeau.
The U.S. has been eager to see Canada take a leadership role in efforts to restore order in Haiti, which has descended into chaos in recent months as gangs have tightened their grip on some parts of the Caribbean country.
So far, Canada has resisted pressure to deploy troops.
But after meeting with Biden, Trudeau commited roughly $100 million to the Haitian police.
The funding comes after the UN expressed grave concern for Haiti, saying “extreme violence continues to spiral out of control.”
Biden and Trudeau also had the economy on their minds during the visit.
Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — which was really a climate-change bill, despite its name — includes major tax breaks for companies that pursue green-friendly projects.
Canada is racing to compete — and there may be a role for Canadian businesses to play as the U.S. retools its economy to make it cleaner and greener.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference following his address, Biden said the IRA shouldn’t be seen as a threat to Canada.
He said the U.S. plan to spend billions through the IRA and CHIPS Act, which offers tax breaks to semiconductor companies that manufacture in the U.S., will have spillover effects for Canada.
“We each have what the other needs,” Biden said. “I’m a little confused on why this is a disadvantage for Canada.”
He said U.S. businesses need to tap Canada’s abundance of critical minerals — an industry that currently is dominated by China, an increasingly unreliable business partner.
“We don’t have the minerals to mine, you can mine them. You don’t want to produce, I mean, turn them into product,” Biden said.
WATCH: Biden, Trudeau speak to media in Ottawa
Canada would dispute Biden’s characterization of the critical minerals file.
The federal government has raced to sign multi-billion dollar contracts with major car companies like Stellantis and Volkswagen, which will use Canadian natural resources to manufacture components for electric vehicles.
The economist Harold Innis once described Canadians as “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” a reference to Canada’s long economic dependence on resources.
Trudeau said Friday Canada doesn’t just extract minerals and ship them off.
“The world is understanding they can no longer rely on places like China or Russia,” he said. “They can rely on Canada to not just be a purveyor of ores, but of finished materials.”
WATCH: When U.S. presidents came to Parliament
The Biden trip comes just after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited with another authoritarian leader in Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While China cozies up to Russia, Biden framed his trip as a way to bolster relations with a close ally and friend, a democratic Canada.
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