Canadian officials have moved to dampen speculation of a breakthrough in the long-running saga that is its purchase of 28 Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters.

The deal has been hit with delay after delay, and although four aircraft have been delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force's Shearwater base in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for training, Ottawa is refusing to accept these aircraft on the grounds that they do not comply with contractual standards.

However, on 12 December Louis Chenevert, chairman and chief executive of Sikorsky parent United Technologies, speaking on a company investor day, was upbeat about the Cyclone's progress.

He says Sikorsky continues to have "productive discussion" with the Canadian government and believes it will be able to deliver eight CH-148s currently in storage near New York to the air force before the end of the year. The remaining 16 Cyclones will be delivered over the next two years, he says.

Although Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), the nation's procurement department, concedes that talks are taking place, it says they are to see "whether a path forward can be developed" based on the findings of a third-party review of the programme. It also gives no indication of any delivery timeframe.

PWGSC declines to be drawn on the contents of the report, but the discussions seem to indicate a recommendation in favour of continuing with the Cyclone. The department in October had meetings with rival manufacturers AgustaWestland and Eurocopter, to see if they could step into the breech if the CH-148 deal was axed.

Sikorsky in 2004 won a $1.8 billion deal to supply 28 CH-148s to the Royal Canadian Air Force. Deliveries of the final versions of the Cyclone were due to start in June 2012.