New Coast Guard deal benefits all Canadians: Bell
By Brian Dunn
April 14, 2015, Mirabel, Que. - Bell Helicopter has landed a second contract valued at $156 million to supply seven more helicopters to the Canadian Coast Guard.
By Brian Dunn
The coast guard said it will buy seven Bell 412EPI medium-lift helicopters to help replace the coast guard’s aging fleet with first deliveries beginning in June, 2016 with deliveries being carried out at the rate of one helicopter every three months. The helicopters will be built at Bell’s plant in Mirabel, Que. The coast guard currently operates MBB BO-105s manufactured between 1983 and 1987 by the Eurocopter Group, now known as Airbus Helicopters.
This is the second Canadian government contract for Bell in just under a year. Last May, it won a sole-source $172 million contract for 15 light-lift model 429 helicopters for the coast guard with the first one delivered in March.
|A proud moment: the men
and women who drive Bell
(Photo courtesy of Bell
The contract was controversial because rival manufacturer Eurocopter, with a plant in Fort Erie, Ont., launched a court challenge claiming Transport Canada gave Bell an advantage by granting the 429 a crucial weight exemption. The accusation that specifications were rigged prompted both Eurocopter and Agustawestland to pull out of the bidding. A federal court judge recently ruled the selection process used by Public Works Canada was irreproachable.
The B412 helicopter is designed to be operated by a single pilot under extreme weather conditions, said Bell. The seven helicopters ordered are to be used for security, environmental protection services and support of the fishing industry and all mariners, according to the federal government.
First introduced in March, 2013, the Bell 412EPI improves the Bell 412EP platform with the Bell BasiX Pro fully integrated glass flight deck, providing critical flight information at a glance for greater situation awareness and safety, said Bell.
The BasiX Pro system is specifically designed to meet the requirements of twin-engine helicopters and is optimized for IFR, Category A and JAR OPS3 compliant operations. The avionics suite also includes high resolution digital maps, electronic charts and approach plates, ADS-B transponder and optional HTAWS and XM satellite links.
The 412EPI also incorporates Pratt & Whitney’s PT6T-9 Twin Pac engines, providing 15 per cent more horsepower than the standard Bell 412. In addition, the 412EPI features the BLR Strake and FastFin system, which modifies the tailboom to optimize airflow and improve handling, safety and lift, according to the company.
Ottawa has set aside $5.2 billion to renew the coast guard’s fleet of helicopters and vessels as part of its Economic Action Plan announced in 2012.
“The tendering process is never easy, but this process was fair and equitable,” Barry Kohler, executive vice-president, customer support said during the announcement at Bell’s Mirabel plant on April 10. “The coast guard is getting a superior fleet for years to come.”
|The newest member of the CCG fleet, the Bell 412 EPI.
(Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter)
Although no new jobs will be created by the new contract, 40 jobs will be consolidated, according to Raymond Leduc, president, Bell Helicopter Textron Canada. “This contract will support the growing aerospace industry in Quebec. It will attract a skilled and youthful workforce to the area and drive economic prosperity. The aerospace industry is important to Quebec’s economy,” said Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
About 65 per cent of the coast guard’s flying hours are dedicated to ensuring the safety of marine traffic, 15 per cent to icebreaking reconnaissance operations and 20 per cent to other government activities such as maintenance and construction of aids to navigation and telecommunications equipment, personnel and cargo transfer between ship and shore and science and fisheries enforcement.