Department of Defense – Australia – Helicopters

Following entry is a record in the “Catalogue of Catastrophe” – a list of failed and troubled projects from around the world.

Department of Defense – Australia
Project :
Seasprite Helicopters
Date : May 2006 Cost :$1.4B AUD

Synopsis :
Australian Navy first grounds (May 2006) and then scraps (Mar 2008) a fleet of 10 helicopters because of safety concerns arising from the avionics software used.  The project involved the purchase of 10 second hand Seasprite helicopters that were first designed in the 1960’s.  The helicopters were to be upgraded with the latest weapons and avionics software to enable them to take on the demands of the Australian Navy.  Unspecified “technical problems” resulted in the aircraft only being cleared to fly from land (not great considering the customer was the Navy), in daylight on clear days and  only for transport missions.

Contributing factors as reported in the press :
Problems integrating 1960’s airframes with modern avionics software (failure of a key architectural decision).  Highly ambitious requirements. Failure to develop software in accordance with Australian defense standards resulted in a failure to gain full air worthiness certification.

See also (another Australian Navy projects) :

  1. Landing craft (2011)

Reference links :

  1. Technical problems ground navy helicopters
  2. Seasprite – Performance audit report