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HeliTorque :: View topic - Industry awaits SAR-H successor
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HeliTorque Forum Index » EMS, SAR & Law Enforcement

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Industry awaits SAR-H successor
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:56 pm    Post subject: Industry awaits SAR-H successor Reply with quote

Industry awaits SAR-H successor
April 20, 2011

The UK helicopter industry is gearing up to compete for a further interim SAR contract that would give the government time to find a successor to the abandoned SAR-H project.

Speaking to reporters at London Oxford Airport on 19 April, Eurocopter’s director of government and public relations, Tim MacMahon, said it was understood that the Department of Transport (DfT) had ‘restarted the process’ and a request for proposals (RfP) was expected to be released in May.

‘We think the RfP will be for a contract that will be awarded later this year and it will take over from the SAR interim contract that is currently run by CHC. This Gap SAR contract will take it out a few more years,’ MacMahon said.

However, a DfT spokesperson would not be drawn on the claims, stating only that the government would make a decision shortly.

‘Potential procurement options are being considered for both short and long term service arrangements, as well as value for money. The government will make a decision as soon as possible,’ the spokesperson said.

The government’s long-term solution for the provision of the UK’s SAR service, the SAR-H programme, was abandoned in February after irregularities were found in the bidding process.

An investigation was launched after allegations that a former member of the joint Ministry of Defence/DfT integrated project team had assisted the preferred bidder, Soteria, in its bid preparation by providing access to commercially sensitive information.

SAR helicopter operations are currently carried out by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force flying the Westland Sea King, and by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) using a mix of S-92s and AW139s provided by CHC under an interim contract.

However, CHC are due to provide four S-92s that are currently operating under this contract to the Irish Coast Guard to meet its commitments there, with the Irish service planned to be fully operational by July 2013. CHC says it is in discussion with the MCA about the current UK interim contract.

If an RfP for a ‘Gap SAR’ contract was to be released as early as May it is currently unclear which industry teams may emerge to meet the requirement.

It is understood that the Soteria consortium, which originally consisted of CHC, Thales and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), has largely broken up, personnel going back to their parent companies and the consortium website coming down soon after details of the investigation emerged.

Soteria was originally chosen as the preferred bidder for SAR-H over AirKnight, a consortium comprising Lockheed Martin, VT Group and British International Helicopters, which had selected the EC225 as its preferred platform.


Tony Skinner, London
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