OTTAWA — Canada has signaled that it could scrap a $4.8 billion deal to buy maritime helicopters from United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky unit.
The contract has been plagued by delays and problems.
"The government is considering other options for the maritime helicopter project," a spokeswoman for federal Public Works Minister Diane Finley said in an e-mailed statement Thursday.
"We are conducting an analysis of price and availability of other aircrafts manufactured by other vendors."
Canada signed the contract in 2004 for 28 of Sikorsky's Cyclone helicopters, the first of which was supposed to be delivered by early 2009.
The firm, a division of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., has so far provided just a handful of Cyclones for training, saying earlier this year that some of the delays were caused by major modifications requested by Canada.
"Sikorsky's singular focus remains on working closely with the Canadian government to deliver a world-class maritime helicopter," Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson said in a written statement Friday. "We continue to make strong and steady progress."
He said that initial pilot training is underway at the Canadian Forces Base in Shearwater, Nova Scotia, where four Cyclones have been delivered. Five more helicopters are housed in New York, waiting to be transported to Canada; two are in flight test; and the other 17 aircraft are "progressing well on the assembly line.
"We have a dedicated team of senior executives, experienced engineers, technicians and support staff working with the Canadian government to deliver the world's most technologically advanced and capable maritime helicopter to the men and women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces," Jackson said.
Finley's statement made clear Canada had yet to take a final decision on what it will do. Ottawa has already fined Sikorsky almost $87 million for failure to meet its obligations.
The helicopters are due to replace Canada's creaking fleet of Sea Kings, which first came into service some 50 years ago.
Reporting by Reuters and Courant Staff Writer Brian Dowling.