The Canadian Government has refused to endorse the Department of National Defense's (DND) recommendation to procure the EH Industries EH101 Cormorant helicopter to meet its search-and-rescue (SAR) requirement.

The EH101 came top in the DND's technical recommendation, but the Federal Cabinet is now demanding that the bid process be reviewed following complaints from the other contenders (Boeing, Eurocopter, and Sikorsky) that the evaluation criteria were slanted in favour of the Cormorant from the outset.

The DND's recommendation to purchase 15 EH101s, at an estimated cost of C$500 million ($352 million), is believed to have been the second most-expensive bid. The Sikorsky Maple Hawk is understood to have been priced at C$300 million, the Eurocopter Cougar at C$400million, and the Boeing CH-47 Chinook at some C$600 million.

The SAR programme is threatening to become an embarrassment for the Canadian Government. The original requirement emerged as the result of a decision by the then new Canadian Government to cancel a previous order for 50 aircraft with EH Industries, a GKN Westland/Agusta consortium, which was deemed to expensive at C$4.8 billion. The Government was forced to pay C$473 million in compensation.

The DND declines to discuss the status of the selection process beyond saying that:"we are still under the evaluation period. We've worked hard to keep everything above board."

Source: Flight International