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Lockheed martin / nh 90 non compliant !!.

Ottawa pushes ahead with bids for new copters




From Wednesday's Globe and Mail


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Ottawa — Ottawa's plan to buy new helicopters to replace its aging Sea Kings got the green light yesterday despite a freeze in new federal spending and the disqualification of one of the three companies in the running.


Government and industry sources said that the Department of National Defence has ruled that one of the three firms in the race for the $3-billion contract has failed to meet all technical requirements.


As such, there will likely be only two companies left in the final portion of the competition, in which the government will select a winner based on the lowest price.


"At last news, there are two [companies] left," one source said.


Defence Minister David Pratt said Tuesday the process to replace the 40-year-old Sea Kings is a "very high priority" for the government, and would be exempted from the current freeze on capital spending. An official call for tenders could come as early as this week.


Mr. Pratt said the government is sticking with the controversial system known as "lowest-cost compliant" to make its purchase.


Under that process, Ottawa will award the contract to the manufacturer with the lowest bid.


There has been pressure on the federal government to switch to a process known as "best value," whereby it can choose a more expensive helicopter if it can demonstrate markedly superior performance.


"The evaluation criteria right now is low-cost compliant," Mr. Pratt said after a cabinet meeting where the issue had been discussed.


He insisted that there are only "minor technical issues" left to go through, although he did keep some wiggle room for a possible change in the procurement strategy.


"That is not subject to review at this point," he added.


Replacing the Sea Kings is one of the hot potatoes that was inherited by Prime Minister Paul Martin from his predecessor, Jean Chrétien.


Mr. Chrétien cancelled a contract to buy new helicopters in 1993, and his government spent 10 years in office without issuing a replacement contract.


The opposition has accused the government of putting the lives of the pilots at risk by using the Sea Kings well beyond their planned retirement date.


The air force's fleet of Sea Kings is currently operating under tight restrictions after two helicopters suffered still-unexplained losses of power recently.


Mr. Martin has insisted that he wants to replace the helicopters as soon as possible.


He stated on numerous occasions that he wants to "make sure is that our military has all of the best equipment possible," leaving some to think that he is in favour of a switch to a "best-value" purchase.


Three companies have entered the race to replace the Sea Kings: Agusta-Westland with its EH-101, Lockheed-Martin with the NH-90, and Sikorsky with its S-92.


Sikorsky's main Canadian partner in the bid, General Dynamics Canada, is located in Mr. Pratt's Ottawa-area riding.


A spokesman for Mr. Pratt said the minister feels he can have no influence on the selection of the winner, given that the actual responsibility for the coming phase of the contract falls under the responsibility of the Department of Public Works.




has the nh90 been ruled out ?.

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This whole thing has been a sham since day 1 - and they wonder why people have lost confidence in government. Sad reality is, we allow these monkeys to run the place like it was there own political playing field, and our short memories fail to ever hold them accountable.


BTW Elvis - Paul Martin was born in Windsor ON. He just got lost.

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This was posted on Pprune. Makes for interesting reading. Wonder if it will play a role in the final decision.



Peter O'Neil

CanWest News Service



December 23, 2003

OTTAWA - Canada's $800-million rescue helicopter fleet has suffered a litany of problems since its 1998 purchase, including radios and computers that regularly break down, a flawed de-icing system, a chronic shortage of spare parts, a search light so bright it temporarily blinds rescuers, airframe cracking and bearings that prematurely loosen.


At one point, Human Resources Development Canada threatened to padlock a hangar at Canadian Forces Base Comox on Vancouver Island over a worker safety issue.


In documents obtained by CanWest News Service, one Comox officer, Major Ryan LaPalm, described the Cormorant program as dysfunctional and warned of an "FS Molotov" -- a flight-safety Molotov cocktail.


Some of the problems relate to the introduction of a relatively unproven aircraft, and the use of a private-sector firm to do the maintenance, he said, but the concerns have no single source.


"Pointing fingers at individual elements is not going to fix things," Maj. LaPalm wrote a year ago. "The process of safely introducing the Cormorant across Canada is flawed and is not going to be fixed quickly.''


The safety and maintenance issues, and the frustrations of several officers involved in delivering and making operational the 15 Cormorants to bases across Canada, are expressed in more than 700 pages of e-mails.


Military officials said in interviews yesterday only an average of seven of the 15 helicopters are ready for operations at a given time, versus the target of 10 to 12.


It is also taking roughly 16.5 hours of repair and maintenance for every hour of flight, significantly higher than the ratio promised by manufacturer AgustaWestland. The Anglo-Italian firm is one of two companies bidding on the $3-billion contract to replace the Sea King maritime patrol helicopters, themselves plagued by safety issues.


The Cormorants, which started becoming operational in the summer of 2002, are currently stationed in Comox, Gander, Nfld., and Greenwood, N.S.


The worker safety issue at CFB Comox related to the failure, for more than a year, to comply with HRDC requirements to equip repair crew with an adequate harness or restraint system. Two workers with Halifax-based IMP, the firm that won the contract to repair and maintain the choppers, were injured in a fall in late 2002.


An HRDC officer named Lisa Mah "stated to me that, if IMP continues ... in non-compliance with legislation and 19 Wing Safety Policy, a padlock will be put on the doors of Hangar 14 to ensure compliance," wrote Ken Ilnitsky, a civilian safety officer at CFB Comox, on Nov. 18, 2002.


Lt.-Col. Grant Smith, senior search-and-rescue officer at the air force's operational headquarters in Winnipeg, said yesterday a harness system was installed in Comox about six months ago and at Gander two months ago. A similar system is being installed at Greenwood.


"We were aware of [hrDC's padlock threat] obviously and that's why we took the measures we did," Lt.-Col. Smith said.


Senior military officials stressed yesterday the Cormorant has performed superbly in rescue missions, including recent operations in B.C. and off Newfoundland.


While the aircraft has never been involved in a major accident, the military acknowledges some frustrations.


"There's some good news out there, but it's not surprising there's plenty of problems still to be worked on," Lt.-Col. Smith said. "It's one of these things where if you try and buy a new technology, sometimes the new technology is not mature."


While he said many problems cited in the e-mails have been resolved, he said other issues remain unresolved. The serious shortage of spare parts won't be fixed, he said, until sometime next spring. The struggle to obtain custom-made components from the manufacturer's headquarters in Italy is exacerbated because a number of parts and components are consistently wearing or breaking down long before their anticipated life span.


"We're not sure why something as simple as a radio is failing to meet our expectations, and the company is not either," Lt.-Col. Smith said.


The fourth Cormorant base in Trenton, Ont., which was delayed several times and was expected to become operational in the spring, now will not begin flying missions until next summer.


"I think, generally speaking, the guys absolutely love the helicopter," Lt.-Col. Smith said. "They wish that when it breaks down for whatever reason that the parts are immediately available."


One April, 2003, document obtained through Access to Information lists nine specific "significant safety concerns" involving the aircraft. The same document cites eight other "significant occurrences and hazard reports" over the past year involving the Cormorant.


In January, two flight safety officers expressed frustration with the aircraft's failure to live up to expectations in several areas.


"There are many issue papers ongoing where the a/c [aircraft] does not meet the required specs," wrote Major Brian MacDonald, now retired, to a colleague.


"It is a sad fact that DND-imposed timelines required us to initially accept deficiencies in the a/c. The impact of this acceptance continues to unfold as we operate the Cormorant."


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