Flying into the show site for its CANSEC debut – and the first helicopter to ever fly into the event – is the latest equipment for the Canadian Coast Guard. Seven Bell 412EPIs have been acquired for the Coast Guard’s Medium- Lift Helicopter requirement, the first two of which were accepted into service by the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a 7 December ceremony last year.
Purchased as part of the CCG’s Fleet Renewal Plan, the Bell 412s were ordered in December 2014 to replace five Bell 212s. Although owned by the Coast Guard, they are flown and serviced by Transport Canada aircrew and engineers. The aircraft have joined a fleet that not only supports operations around Canada’s coastlines, but also around the Great Lakes, St Lawrence seaway and other inland waters.
They deliver a range of key services on behalf of the Coast Guard and support the government’s Oceans Protection Plan. Activities include ensuring the safety of marine traffic, reconnaissance for icebreaking operations, supporting the maintenance of navigation and marine communications equipment, scientific research, fisheries enforcement, and the transport of personnel and cargo between ship and shore. The fleet also supports Environment Canada and the Department of National Defence.
Launched in August 2012, the fleet renewal plan authorised the acquisition of 24 new helicopters to replace the current fleet of 21. In May 2014, Bell Helicopter Textron Canada was contracted to provide 15 Bell 429s for the CCG’s Light-Lift Helicopter requirement, replacing Bell 206s, and all were delivered by February 2016. Together with the Bell 412 buy, this accounts for 22 of the 24 authorised machines, and options for the remaining two are being studied.
Introduced in 2013, the 412EPI is the latest version of the proven Model 412 design. A key enhancement is the Bell BasiXPro avionics with fully integrated glass cockpit featuring four 10.4in high-resolution multifunction displays. Power comes from Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6T-9 TwinPac engine with increased power, while the BLR Aerospace FastFin kit that improves performance and safety is fitted as standard in the factory.
Training for the fleet is to be undertaken from next year in a CAE 3000 Series helicopter simulator being installed at Transport Canada’s training centre in Ottawa. The single simulator “mothership”, with CAE Medallion 6000 visuals, has “roll-on, roll-off” cockpits for the Bell 412EPI and 429. When the full-motion simulator has one type of cockpit installed, the other cockpit can be connected to a docking station to act as a fixed-base flight training device.