Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cast-off 'copters may fly for RCAF

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OTTAWA -- Some helicopters from U.S. President Barack Obama's cast-off fleet may yet find their way into the service of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The Canadian Press has learned Defence Minister Peter MacKay recently ordered National Defence to take another look at whether some of the nine VH-71 aircraft -- purchased for spare parts to keep this country's search-and-rescue choppers flying -- can be made fully operational.

MacKay plans to tour the hangar at IMP Aerospace in Nova Scotia, where the discarded presidential fleet has been housed since the Harper government spent $164 million to acquire it from the Pentagon.

Both the air force and the department's material branch have insisted the American helicopters were only suitable for spares because they do not have an air worthiness certificate, nor an electronics suite for search and rescue.

But MacKay said he's ordered a review to see what sort of work would be needed to bring as many as four of them onto the flight line.

"This is something we're very serious about," he said, noting it would be cheaper than buying additional CH-149 Cormorants.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2013 A11

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