CHC preparing for possible DOD contracts in Afghanistan
CHC Helicopter has cleared a substantial hurdle that could lead to new contracts with the US Department of Defense (DOD).
Helicopters are one of the main sources of transportation for US and coalition forces in Afghanistan because of the lack of road infrastructure and security issues.
That need has prompted another problem: a critical lack of helicopters, particularly medium and heavy ones to transport cargo and personnel.
CHC is one step closer to helping solve that problem after passing a DOD audit, officially known as a Commercial Airlift Review Board (CARB) approval. The CARB audit, conducted by the DOD Commercial Airlift Division, extensively examined all areas of CHC Helicopters.
Specifically, the audit concentrated on the standards of management, safety, flight operations, crew hiring, training, and scheduling.
The audit approval is needed for any company bidding on DOD contracts. The US military has hired commercial helicopter carriers to transport cargo and DOD personnel in the war-torn country and CHC bid on that work.
“We passed with flying colours,” said Santiago Crespo, CHC’s commercial director for the Americas. “The audit opens the door for any DOD work.”
Santiago explained how a great deal of preparation went into ensuring the audit was a success.
“We were well positioned because of our commitment to safety and quality and the only difference in the audit was scope. CARB is specifically for military missions in Afghanistan,” he explained. “We set up a team four months prior to the audit and had representatives from Safety & Quality, Operations, Commercial and Technical Services and we conducted a pre-audit with an external firm that saw us do a dry run in order to identify any gaps that needed filling.”
After receiving news of the CARB approval, the commercial team cleared another DOD barrier.
In a separate process, CHC was awarded an IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity) contract, allowing the company to bid on specific task orders.
If successful, CHC could begin providing airlift services as early as Oct. 15.
By passing the DOD audit, CHC now plans to put into service a number of existing Eurocopter Super Pumas in Afghanistan.
“This is a terrific opportunity for CHC because these aircraft have been sitting idle after servicing offshore oil rigs,” said Santiago. “It’s a perfect venue to place these helicopters so they can continue their life. It’s kind of a secondary market,” he explained.
CHC has bid on a number of DOD task orders and will likely start to hear the results of the bids as early as July.
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