DOD Letter Demands Plan To Address Quality And Schedule
Sikorsky is still garnering a
great deal of attention from the military regarding quality control
of its parts and meeting delivery schedules.
As ANN reported, the US Navy
discovered problems with tail rotors on some of its Seahawk
helicopters after one tossed a blade inflight. The Navy's
investigation blamed the failure on a "manufacturing defect."
Further inspections discovered similar problems with 41 other
blades in service.
A scathing November 22 letter from commander of the Defense
Contract Management Agency's (DCMA) Stratford office Navy Captain
Dorothy Freer to Sikorsky's president Jeffrey Pino called the
company's response to DOD complaints of last summer
Freer wrote, "It appears that management oversight is out of
control and is driving quality escapes that are mounting in
seriousness." She demanded the company take "immediate action" to
deal with the "mounting risk," and gave a 30-day deadline to submit
The letter read in part, "The bottom line is that quality is
deteriorating, schedule is not getting better in the short term,
and the seriousness of the errors that are occurring are becoming
Freer said Sikorsky's heavy reliance on subcontractors and "the
culture at Sikorsky" is the primary cause for its poor quality
In early 2004 DCMA temporarily halted deliveries of Blackhawk
helicopters after inspections turned up problems in Sikorsky's
Stratford plant. Last summer Freer sent a letter expressing many of
the same concerns of her November 22 letter.
Pino responded to last summer's letter from Freer that he had
assigned then vice president for operations Tom Hutton to
handle the problems. Hutton was to bring customer quality concerns
to other company executives and arrange communications to get the
message to office and factory workers.
Just last week, following Freer's latest letter, Hutton took a
new job with Pratt & Whitney as vice president for global parts
repair services. Sikorsky and Pratt are subsidiaries of United
Sikorsky refuses to comment on the reason for Hutton's move
other than to say vice presidents move between divisions all the
Sikorsky says it has responded to Freer's concerns by increasing
from six to fifteen the number of inspectors stationed at Florida
subcontractor Crestview Aerospace Corporation. It has also
increased the number of inspections for critical parts such as
flight controls and rotor blade connections.