Canada's plans to modernise its coastguard's ageing helicopter fleet have attracted the initial interest of five rotorcraft manufacturers, including the industry's four biggest airframers.

The country wants to purchase 16 light and eight medium helicopters alongside "at least one" flight simulator over the next five years.

Canadian procurement body Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) says AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter, Eurocopter, MD Helicopters and Sikorsky had all registered their interest by the 30 August deadline.

PWGSC will now post a draft request for proposal on its electronic tendering website "once we have completed the engagement with industry and Canada has identified its requirements". The budget for the procurement is still to be finalised, it adds.

To be owned by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada department, the helicopter fleet will primarily be used for maintenance of coastguard communications systems, aids to navigation, "and other programs such as fisheries enforcement, ice reconnaissance, and environmental response, and will operate across Canada", says the department. They will also support the nation's new polar icebreaker, CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, which will enter full service in 2017.

Flightglobal's HeliCAS database lists the Canadian coastguard as operating a total of 21 rotorcraft: three Bell 206s, four Bell 212s and 14 Eurocopter BO105s with an average age of more than 30 years.

Source: Flight International