Chinook report slams flawed MoD procurement methods

Tony Collins

Today's Public Accounts Committee report into the fatal crash of a Chinook Mk2 helicopter focused on a report by...

Tony Collins

Today's Public Accounts Committee report into the fatal crash of a Chinook Mk2 helicopter focused on a report by independent contractor EDS-Scicon, which was hired to assess the Chinook's Fadec engine control system.

In 1993, a few months before the Fadec system was approved by the RAF for operational service, EDS-Scicon abandoned its assessment of the system because of the high number of anomalies found.

EDS-Scicon examined less than 20% of the code but found 485 anomalies, including a potential flaw in the Fadec's central processing unit.

In a report - a copy of which Computer Weekly has published on its Web site - EDS-Scicon said the potential flaw "at some point in the future may cause incorrect operation of the Fadec".

The committee also took into account a series of reports on the Fadec by Boscombe Down, the MoD's test and evaluation centre. In one report Boscombe Down said the Fadec software was "unacceptable"

Today's report lends weight to the concerns expressed by EDS-Scicon and Boscombe Down.

It says that although the Fadec software had not been independently verified, the department allowed the system to go into service "based on its judgement on advice from the manufacturers".

"We are surprised that the department, having invested time and money in securing independent expert advice then chose to move to full release to service without following the recommendations provided," said the report.

It added, "We are concerned that insufficient action was taken to deal with the large number of anomalies discovered by EDS-Scicon".

The committee was "concerned that the aircraft was deployed to squadron service without the benefit of a Fadec software rewrite or full independent assurance".

The Treasury is expected to respond in detail to the PAC report in the next two months.


A breach of natural justice

PAC's verdict

"There were real reasons to doubt the safety of the Chinook Mk 2 at the time of the crash."

This was last published in November 2000

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