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Ontario exploring purchase of medium helicopter fleet

By Lisa Gordon | May 19, 2024

Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 17 seconds.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) is gathering information for the potential purchase of a fleet of medium category helicopters.

According to posting 19600 on Merx, a website featuring a variety of private and public sector tender opportunities, Ontario issued the Request for Information (RFI) on May 7. An RFI is a process used to gather details from potential suppliers of a good or service, with the goal of narrowing down the list of possible vendors.

Helicopter manufacturers have until June 3 to submit information about current or future models that would “support the Ministry with the protection of people, property, and communities from natural hazards.”

According to the RFI, the Ministry-owned medium helicopters would be called upon for a variety of tasks, many of them relating to wildland firefighting. In fire situations, helicopters would be used to evacuate people; deliver personnel, cargo and equipment; conduct fire reconnaissance flights; fly aerial detection patrols; and bomb or bucket wildland fires.

Other requested capabilities include short/long line operations; night ops using night vision goggles; medevacs; aerial assessments; and wildlife capture and fish stocking. Helicopters must be capable of operating in hazardous conditions, including taking off and landing in confined natural areas. 

The RFI gives no indication of how many medium category helicopters might be required.

Separately, the OMNRF issued a tender on April 17 to contract up to four medium category helicopters for the 2024/25 and 2025/26 fire seasons. The document says those aircraft will be used for the insertion and extraction of wildland fire suppression personnel, as well as water bombing and slinging. That tender expires on May 21.

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