During a ceremony yesterday, March 14, in the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) hangar at the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 12 Wing at Shearwater, Nova Scotia, the 15th and final CCG Bell 429 helicopter was formally handed over. Accepting the helicopter were the Honourable Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Judy M Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and Jody Thomas, Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard.
After being awarded a contract that was announced on May 12, 2014, Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd, based in Mirabel, Quebec, has completed the delivery of 15 of these light-lift helicopters to the Canadian Coast Guard in less than two years. This milestone was achieved ahead of schedule and on budget. The first Bell 429 had been delivered to the coast Guard in late March 2015.
Twelve of the new helicopters are already in service across the country, including Shearwater, carrying out Canadian Coast Guard missions. A second Bell 429 will be delivered to Shearwater later this month. The remaining three aircraft are supporting pilot training but they too will be deployed to their operational bases shortly.
The new, state of the art helicopters are faster, can fly farther and carry greater payload than the aircraft they are replacing. In addition, they provide a range of safety enhancements over the existing aircraft.
The Canadian Coast Guard’s helicopter fleet supports several programmes that contribute to the safety, national security and sovereignty of Canada. Helicopter missions include everything from flying to remote sites in Canada to supporting construction and maintenance of CCG communication sites, oil pollution response, ice monitoring and support to DFO Science programmes.
In addition to the Bell 429s, a contract for seven Bell 412EPIs for the Canadian Coast Guard was announced by Bell on April 10, 2015. They will support the CCG’s maritime security and fisheries activities and will contribute to the safety, accessibility, sustainability and security of Canadian waters. First delivery is scheduled for June of this year. Alan Warnes