The delivery of 15 light-lift helicopters to the Canadian Coast Guard is on budget and ahead of schedule.

Bell Helicopter Textron Ltd., of Mirabel, Que., which was awarded in May 2104, the contract to provide the aircraft to the Coast Guard, delivered the last of the 15 helicopters earlier this month.

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.

Twelve of the new helicopters are already in service across the country, including Shearwater, Nova Scotia, carrying out Canadian Coast Guard missions. A second machine 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.

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“This project is a good example of how Government procurement can move quickly to meet pressing needs,” said Judy Foote, minister of Public Services and Procurement. “With more coastline than any country in the world, Canada requires a well-equipped Coast Guard and these helicopters will ensure that missions can be completed wherever and whenever demands arise. Investments like this also keep skilled Canadians employed and help communities prosper.”

Foote was in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia together with Hunter Tootoo, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; Jody Thomas, commissioner of the Coast Guard; and Darren Fisher, MP for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour to receive the helicopters.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s helicopter fleet supports several programs 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 programs.

Bell Helicopter was also awarded a contract for seven medium-lift helicopters, with delivery starting in 2017.

The majority of flying hours logged by Coast Guard helicopters (65 per cent of the total) is devoted to ensuring the safety of marine traffic, followed by icebreaking operations (15 per cent)  and its other responsibilities to other Coast Guard programs and other government departments (20 per cent).