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Defence Minister Peter MacKay replies to a question during question period in the House of Commons on April 1. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))

Ottawa won't accept a helicopter ordered for the Canadian military unless the chopper meets specifications that require it to fly if the main gearbox loses all oil pressure, the defence minister said Friday.

The 28 Cyclone MH-92 helicopters being manufactured by Sikorsky in a multibillion-dollar contract will have to have a so-called run-dry capability, Peter MacKay said in Halifax.

"I assure you that there will be rigorous testing, there will rigorous examination of that helicopter before we take possession of it and it will meet the specifications that we submit to them," he said. "We won't accept a helicopter that isn't safe to fly."

The technology allows a helicopter to fly for 30 minutes after the flight crew becomes aware of a lubrication system failure or loss of lubricant, according to regulations set out by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Questions have arisen in recent weeks over the new military helicopters after a similar chopper went down off the coast of Newfoundland last month, killing 17 people on board.

The Sikorsky S-92, a civilian version of the aircraft Ottawa is planning to buy, was carrying workers to oil platforms.

The S-92 does not have run-dry capability. The crew had cited a loss of oil pressure moments before the helicopter plunged into the water at a rapid speed.

Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada found that two out of three mounting studs on the main gearbox broke in flight, leading to a complete loss of oil pressure.

The helicopter involved in the Newfoundland crash was certified under an exemption that states the aircraft doesn't need run-dry capability if such lubrication failures are considered "extremely remote."