Bell Helicopter awarded $156M coast guard chopper contract
Another 7 helicopters to be made by sole-source contractor with Quebec plant
Seven more helicopters for the Canadian Coast Guard have been ordered by the federal government from Bell Helicopter in a contract valued at $156 million.
It announced Friday it would buy seven Bell 412EPI helicopters to help replace the coast guard's aging fleet.
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Bell Helicopter, a Texas-based company with a plant in Mirabel, Que., is the same company that won a sole-source contract for 15 light-lift model 429 helicopters for the coast guard last year.
Those helicopters are currently being made, partly in the Quebec plant, with the first delivered this March.
The contract was controversial because other aircraft makers, such as Airbus Helicopters Canada and Agusta Westland, pulled out of the bidding saying the process was skewed in favour of Bell.
The B412 helicopter is designed to be operated by a single pilot under extreme weather conditions, Bell Helicopter says.
The seven helicopters ordered are to be used for security, environmental protection services and support of the fishing industry and other mariners, according to the federal government.
The first helicopters of the new contract are to be delivered in June 2016.
The Canadian Coast Guard currently operates MBB BO-105s manufactured between 1983 and 1987 by Eurocopter Group, a company that is now known as Airbus Helicopters.
A press release from Fisheries and Oceans says Ottawa has set aside $5.2 billion to renew the coast guard's fleet of helicopters and vessels.