Quebec Firm Wants To Sell Helicopter Engines To China

Posted: November 20, 2014 in Econ 101, Free Trade, Technology and Energy


Quebec firm in Chinese helicopter controversy wants to sell engines to China

A Quebec firm is asking the Conservative government to approve the sale of helicopter engines to China, just two years after it was accused of illegally supplying technology that allowed the Chinese military to develop its first attack helicopter.

International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Foreign Affair Minister John Baird are to decide whether to give the okay to Pratt and Whitney Canada to sell the engines. The company wants approval for the export of the equipment as quickly as possible.

Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Caitlin Workman said in an email that the department could not comment on the engine export issue “for reasons of commercial confidentiality.” Officials with Pratt and Whitney Canada could not provide comment either.

But Industry Minister James Moore told aerospace company representatives on Wednesday that China is a key market for Canadian exports of aerospace products. He noted the recently announced deal, worth more than $1 billion, involving a Chinese airline’s purchase of regional jets from Bombardier of Montreal.

In the Pratt and Whitney case, it is unclear which firm in China would be purchasing the engines.

Pratt and Whitney Canada pleaded guilty in 2012 to two counts of violating U.S. export laws after providing U.S. technology that allowed China to develop its first attack helicopter. Its parent firm, the U.S.-based United Technologies Corporation, was required to pay $75 million in penalties for that and for other export violations in which it was involved.

The U.S. also imposed a partial freeze on export licences for Pratt and Whitney, an aircraft engine manufacturer based in Longueuil, Que.

But as senior U.S. politicians were calling for tougher sanctions against the firm, Canadian officials concluded the company would emerge unscathed from the scandal, according to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat, and ranking Republican member John McCain demanded more be done, with the Pentagon looking at preventing the company from bidding on future U.S. military contracts.

No individual managers or employees of the Canadian firm, the senators noted, were held accountable for what they termed “criminal misconduct” that might have caused significant harm to America’s security.

But the U.S. government did not invoke further sanctions on the firm.

Documents obtained by the Citizen showed that officials at Public Works and the Department of National Defence concluded that even the original sanctions taken by the U.S. against Pratt and Whitney Canada would have little effect on the company’s business.

Public Works official Pascal Girard noted in September 2012 that the Pratt and Whitney conviction would not affect the company’s ability to bid on Canadian government contracts.

In addition, the sanctions did “not affect current or future U.S. military, NATO, and other major non-NATO contracts, coalition efforts, or the commercial activities of Pratt and Whitney.”

Security analysts revealed in 2007 that China’s Z-10 Zhisheng attack helicopter was being powered by Pratt and Whitney engines. In response, the firm said it had done nothing wrong and the sale had been approved by the Canadian government.

Company spokesman Jean-Daniel Hamelin said at the time that the firm was a supplier for a Chinese helicopter that was supposed to have both civilian and military variants.

But five years later, the company admitted it broke U.S. law. According to court documents, Pratt and Whitney Canada knew from the start of the Z-10 project in 2000 that the Chinese were developing an attack helicopter and that supplying it with U.S.-origin components would be illegal.

  1. SweetDoug says:

    Leave it to the weasels, the military industrial complex to keep the game going like this.

    We ought’a take’em out and hang’em in the streets.

    When will Pratt & Whitney now sell us the updated version to beat the engines they sold to the filthy Chinese?



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