Agusta challenges fairness of French police helicopter tender

 - March 8, 2007, 5:09 AM

Agusta S.p.A., the Italian element of AgustaWestland, is suing the French procurement agency, the DGA, claiming that an unfair tender essentially eliminated the Milan-based company from the competition for helicopters for the French state. Agusta filed the lawsuit in the Paris administrative court late last year, alleging that the agency’s delay in issuing specifications was intended to make the Eurocopter EC 145 the only suitable candidate and that as a result the agency purchased EC 145s instead of Agusta A109s. Agusta is requesting that the contract be cancelled.

On August 31, the French state inked a E60 million ($78 million) contract for seven Eurocopter EC 145s and accompanying maintenance and training. In the lawsuit, Agusta also said that delegating the agreement’s signature had not been published as required by French law.

A DGA spokesman told AIN that the ongoing lawsuit will have no impact on the delivery process. Eurocopter will deliver the first helicopter “late this summer” to the Gendarmerie police force, which will take delivery of one helicopter every two months, the last scheduled for the middle of next year.

In January, the Gendarmerie confirmed an option for three EC 145s, bringing to 15 its orders for this model. At the same time, Eurocopter won another contract for the Gendarmerie, chalking up a firm order for 12 EC 135s.