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The Harper government has awarded a contract worth up to $172 million for 15 light coast guard helicopters, despite facing a court challenge and accusations that the winner was given an unfair advantage.

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel announced the deal with Bell Helicopter today, heralding it as a way to stimulate economic growth and create Canadian jobs.

Under the terms of the contract, the first of the Bell model 429 helicopters will start arriving a year from now, with one new helicopter delivered each month thereafter.

Shea said the purchase will support more than 200 direct and indirect jobs.

Long before the contract was awarded, rival manufacturer Eurocopter, which produces aircraft in Fort Erie, Ont., launched a court challenge claiming Transport Canada gave Bell a leg-up by granting its model 429 a crucial weight exemption.

The accusation that specifications were rigged prompted both Eurocopter and AgustaWestland to pull out of the bidding.


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Seems to me that AW and Eurocopter would have had a better chance (in court and the bidding) had they submitted proposals. By not participating they somewhat waived the right to challenge the process. At least if they bid and lost they could challenge the process as Boeing did when the US fuel tanker contract was awarded to Airbus.

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Had a long chat with CG Chief pilot a couple years ago. Everybody in the coast guard (wants) wanted the EC145. The 429 didn't have the payload capacity for CG needs (pop-outs, raft, winch, etc). Funny TC has been dragging its heels for years on certification of the EC145 but they fast-tracked an increase in payload for the 429 (apparently specifically for the CG needs). Now that the contract is a done deal, watch just how fast the EC145 will get it's certification by TC... ;)


Of course this is all hearsay, but I hear a lot of CG pilots and wrenches are a little bit discouraged by the whole ordeal... <_<

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