Airbus Helicopters has delivered a stinging criticism of a Canadian procurement for medium-class helicopters, alleging that it favours a single manufacturer.
Bell Helicopter now appears to be the only bidder for the tender, covering eight rotorcraft for Canada's coast guard, after none of the other major OEMs were able to meet Ottawa’s requirements.
The France-headquartered airframer has already commenced legal action against procurement body Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) for a related acquisition of light helicopters, which it also says is unfairly weighted towards Bell.
It says: “Unfortunately, this [request for proposals] is similar to the previous RFP for light-lift helicopters, which attracted only one bidder.
“We believe that a procurement that is not truly open to competitive bids is not in the best interests of Canadian taxpayers and does not provide the best value to Canada.”
It calls for “an opportunity to compete in fair, open and transparent competition”.
Although less vocal in their judgment of PWGSC, neither Sikorsky nor AgustaWestland have submitted proposals for the tender.
US manufacturer Sikorsky says it evaluated the potential of pitching both the US Coast Guard-operated H-60 and the S-76D.
“The S-76D appeared to be the best fit to the specifications required, but after careful consideration, Sikorsky Aircraft decided not to bid,” it says, declining to elaborate further.
AgustaWestland meanwhile, had considered offering its intermediate-class AW139, but decided the helicopter was too large to land on older coastguard vessels.
PWGSC was not immediately available to comment.
Airframers had until 21 April to submit bids with a decision expected by the autumn.