Two investigations into alleged probity breaches on Australia's Air 9000 military helicopter rationalisation project have found no evidence of improper conduct, said Australian defence minister Robert Hill on 15 December.

He revealed that the secretary of the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has received reports from the inspector general of defence and the Air 9000 probity adviser, and that "the secretary has accepted the findings that there was no evidence of improper conduct, bias or unethical behaviour during the evaluation process".

As first reported by Flight International, whistleblowers within the DoD had complained that they had been pressured by the Australian Army to change the parameters of modelling applied to AgustaWestland's EH101, the results of which were used to justify dropping the aircraft from the competition in early October. Eurocopter and Sikorsky will now contest the requirement.

Contrary to some international media claims, the internal investigations were not sparked by complaints from AgustaWestland.

The second investigation is understood to have been conducted by Australian law firm Clayton Utz. Australian government purchasing records analysed by Flight International identify a $285,000 contract award to the company by the Air 9000 project office on 6 November 2003. This is consistent with Flight International research, which indicates that the allegations began circulating within the Australian DoD in early October.

A third investigation has also been launched within the DoD to determine how details of the whistleblower allegations became public.

Source: Flight International