At least three helicopter manufacturers are awaiting the imminent start of a process to supply the Canadian Coast Guard with 16 new light twin-engine helicopters and up to eight medium twins.
Although no developments had been expected until late summer or early fall, various sources have told Vertical that Public Works and Government Services Canada, the federal governments purchasing arm, is understood to have a Letter of Interest (LOI) ready for its MERX website.
The current CCG fleet includes 14 of its original 16 MBB Bo105s, manufactured in Germany but assembled and delivered by Eurocopter Canada between 1983 and 1987. The remainder of its helicopters are Bells manufactured in the United States, including three 206Bs that date to the late 1960s and five 212s that date to the late 1970s.
Once potential suppliers have had a chance to respond to the LOI, the government is expected to hold an industry day, possibly as early as August or September. That would set the stage for a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) later this year, followed by a formal RFP early in 2013 with a view to signing a contract next summer.
AgustaWestland, Bell and Eurocopter are all seen as likely contenders for the contract. Potential light-twin helicopter candidates include the AgustaWestland AW109, the Bell 429 and the Eurocopter EC135 or 145. Potential medium-twin candidates include the AgustaWestland AW139, the Bell 412 and the Eurocopter EC175. Sikorsky could also be expected to offer a modified S-76D in the medium category, and, while it doesnt currently have a light twin to put forward, it could partner with another manufacturer on an offering.