Irish Coast Guard: Search and Rescue (SAR) Aviation Project

PIN Notice

The PIN for this procurement has been published and is available here.

Market Engagement Timeline

30 July 2020 : As part of the next stage of the procurement process for the SAR Aviation Service for the Irish Coast Guard, a Market Engagement Webinar has been organised for Thursday 3 September at 2.30pm.

It will run for approximately 90 minutes and will provide some further details of the project with a Q& A opportunity at the end of the session. Following this event, there will be scope for bi-laterals with the Project Team on 10th, 17th and 24th September.

No action is required following this broadcast as further details regarding accessing the event and the slots for bi-laterals will be provided at a later date.

14 August 2020 :A Webinar Attendance form and instructions issued via eTenders for those wishing to attend

3 September 2020 : Following completion and submission of Expressions of Interest, the Webinar was held for interested parties. A copy of the slides are available below and also via eTenders.

17 November 2020 : A detailed note updating the market on the current and ongoing SAR Aviation Project was broadcast on eTenders along with FAQs that arose during the bi lateral meetings enquiring as to the procurement process. A copy of same can be found below.

1 December 2020 :In relation to the timelines for the SAR Aviation Project, slide 24 of the Webinar, held in early September 2020, has been amended to indicate the correct transition phase for the contract. Transition phase commences when the new contract has been awarded and concludes when the old contract expires. Currently, these indicative timelines are Quarter 1 2022 to Quarter 3 2023. Please note these dates may be subject to change as we proceed with the procurement process.

Please find amended Webinar slides below, with change made to Slide # 24. A Broadcast with slides attached has also been sent via eTenders today

16 December 2020: Following a query in relation to the transition period from contract award to service activation, a broadcast was issued via eTenders to clarify that the transition period can be further extended, if required, for a further two years to end of June 2025 at the latest for all bases or base by base depending on the nature of the new service. Pending engagement during competitive negotiation the current contract has been extended for one year only to end of June 2023 at this point.

For those seeking updates, if you have not already done so, please register your interest on eTenders.

12 March 2021 :The timelines for the above referenced process have changed to accommodate further stakeholder engagement with the Department of Defence and the Air Corps to evaluate a potential Air Corps role as part of the overall solution to ensure a robust business case options study is documented. As already signalled, the outcome of the business case stage of this process will go to Government to agree, inter alia, the scope, nature and timing of the procurement process. This means a likely publication of the initial Request for Proposals in Q2 rather than Q1. We would ask that you continue to monitor eTenders and our SAR Webpage for our next update.

9 April 2021: Following Broadcast issued via eTenders

This is an on-going deliberative process which will ultimately lead to a Government decision. As such and in interests of ensuring transparency for all potentially interested parties, we wish to clarify that all relevant communications on the process are being managed by this Department, as the lead Department in relation to the provision of Maritime Search and Rescue, and your reliable source for information on this is the website and our dedicated webpage Irish Coast Guard: Search and Rescue (SAR) Aviation Project

For clarity in terms of process and who is involved, here is a summary of the key milestones and actors in the process to date:

In November 2019 the Department of Transport commenced a process to prepare for the next iteration of the Coast Guard Aviation service. This involved an extensive consultation process with all key State and other SAR stakeholders to consider the scope and demand for the service over the lifetime of a new contract.

A Steering Group chaired by the Director of the Irish Coast Guard, Eugene Clonan was established to oversee the project, including members of the Project Team (below) and other State stakeholders - the Department of Health/HSE, Department of Defence/Air Corps, An Garda Siochána, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and Irish Aviation Authority (ANSP/ARCC). The Steering Group last met in October 2020.

A Project Team was established within the Department to manage the day to day issues associated with the project. This comprises: Eugene Clonan, Director of the Coast Guard, Caoimhin O Ciaruain, Principal Officer, Gerard O’Flynn, Assistant Director IRCG, Kathleen Morrissey, Assistant Principal, David Crowe, Assistant Principal , Strategic Research and Analysis Division, and Aoife Walsh, Higher Executive Officer. The Team has additional expertise available to it from Aerossurance (IRCG’s aviation consultants since 2017 awarded via open competition) and for the purposes of carrying out the detailed business/economic assessment in line with the requirements of the Public Spending Code, KPMG (contracted via open competition in October 2020).

While not actual members of the Steering Group, advice will be sought as required from various other relevant bodies during the project e.g. CSSO.

A process auditor was appointed in early 2020 to oversee compliance and to independently observe the procurement process to ensure that the procurement principles and rules are met at every stage of the process (Bid and Tender Management Services, contracted via open competition).

All members of the Steering Group signed a Conflict of Interest declaration and agreed to the terms of a Communications Protocol. This Protocol was issued to all members of the Steering Group having regard to the EU law principles of transparency and equal treatment, which requires the Department to run the tender competition in an open and fair manner. The purpose of the Protocol is to safeguard the integrity of the overall procurement process, including the pre-tender stage, for all concerned by clearly setting out the parameters for all engagement and interaction. It also sets out the control measures in place to manage risks associated with such interactions. In addition it provides safeguards to ensure the incumbent supplier does not, intentionally or otherwise, receive a competitive advantage. All prospective tenderers must be treated equally and in a non-discriminatory manner.

A strategic assessment and preliminary appraisal was undertaken by the Department, agreed by the Steering Group and brought to Government for information in July 2020. The preliminary appraisal included an appraisal of various options, including different service delivery models.

The next phase in Public Spending Code is the preparation of a detailed business case. This commenced in November 2020.

At that point, the Secretary General of Department of Defence requested the Secretary General of the Department of Transport to explore the option of the Air Corps providing some element of the IRCG’s aviation service as part of the business case. On foot of the formal Air Corps submission which was received by the Department in February, the Department of Defence (and the Air Corps) recused themselves from further deliberations on the development of the business case. The Steering Group is due to meet again once the final business case is available to consider and it will not include representation from either the Department of Defence or the Air Corps before the matter goes to Government.

The timelines for the process were adjusted to accommodate further stakeholder engagement with the Department of Defence and the Air Corps to evaluate a potential Air Corps role as part of the overall solution. This is to ensure a robust business case is developed taking account of all viable options. The outcome of the business case stage of this process will go to Government to agree, inter alia, the scope, nature and timing of the procurement process. This is now expected later in Q2 2021.

All details and any further updates are available on the dedicated e-tenders website Irish Coast Guard: Search and Rescue (SAR) Aviation Project

27 July 2021: Department of Transport Press Release and Broadcast on eTenders

Government Decision on new Coast Guard Aviation Service

Government today (27 July 2021) agreed to commence the formal procurement process for a new Coast Guard aviation service in October next. The service is currently contracted to CHC Ireland and may be extended up to June 2025 at the latest. The decision was based on a detailed appraisal and business case prepared by KPMG for the Department of Transport, and was brought to Government by the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, T.D.

The business case brought to Government set out the strategic case for a new service, considered the range of options for how such a service could be delivered, including the potential for the Air Corps to provide an element of the service as a “hybrid” option alongside another civil operator. It also sets out an implementation plan to achieve the desired service. The detailed appraisal included a financial and economic appraisal of short-listed options, with an assessment of costs, benefits, affordability, deliverability, risks and sensitivities associated with the options. The approval of the business case is one of the key steps required in the Public Spending Code (PSC). Details of the procurement will be announced in October when the formal Pre-Qualification requirements for tendering will be published.

Commenting on the decision, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D. said: “After a lengthy deliberative process, I am glad we now have a decision to proceed to tender based on a business case which has considered all relevant aspects involved including its core SAR role but also the important secondary benefits to be derived from the service including supports to the island communities and the Health Service Executive. The report considered all the various options for how the service can be best delivered, the demand drivers and the changing technological and market environment in which this procurement will be set. This is a costly but vital service to the State and it is important that we optimise the benefits to be derived from it”.

The Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, T.D welcomed the decision and the fact that it provides for the possibility of the Air Corps providing a new fixed wing element as part of the Coast Guard’s overall aviation service: “My Department and the Air Corps, working in close consultation with the Irish Coast Guard over the next two and a half months, will look at how the Air Corps might provide a dedicated fixed wing element of the service which meets the requirements and parameters which are now clearly set out in the business case”.

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton T.D. also welcomed the decision and thanked those stakeholders across the SAR system and the relevant Departments and state entities who have informed the deliberations on this process to date. “The decision paves the way for the procurement of this vital element of our Search and Rescue system over a 10 year period. The timelines and procurement strategy agreed today will ensure a seamless transition from the existing contract with CHCI. It will also offer the potential to avail of developments in technology since the last contract was let in 2010 and to build on the experience and lessons learnt over the last 10 years.”

She added: “The process of consultation and deliberation started over 18 months ago and has included extensive discussions with state and voluntary organisations involved and reliant to one degree or another on the Irish Coast Guard’s aviation service. Their views have helped to inform and shape the scope and nature of the new service which KPMG’s business case has appraised and costed”.

The formal procurement documentation will describe the expectations and requirements for the pre-qualification stage of the procurement. This will be published by end October next when the formal procurement is launched.

Based on the business case analysis, the new service is expected to benefit from some new elements including a dedicated fixed wing component to provide the IRCG with an on-call pollution monitoring, high endurance search and top cover capability. It also has the potential to allow a more innovative helicopter fleet. The helicopter element will include night vision capability from the outset. From a competitive perspective, the procurement will benefit from a more extensive range of potential helicopter solutions than would have been on the market in 2010.

The current service already provides significant secondary services to the HSE and the National Ambulance Services and medical evacuation services to the island communities. The service scoped in the business case will continue to deliver these ancillary services and has the potential to deliver more supports to the HSE and additional fire-fighting capability to the Department of Housing / Fire Services. These aspects will be subject to further discussion with those services as the procurement strategy advances.

The cost of the existing contract is in the region of €60m a year. The analysis concludes that the estimated costs for a new service could be similar although the precise costings set out in the business case are premised on a number of different assumptions and based on a different model to the current one. The costings are confidential and commercially sensitive. The actual cost will only be known once the tenders have been received, evaluated and Government awards the tender – expected to be in March 2023.

9 August 2021

An Update for interested parties on the procurement process for the next iteration of the IRCG Aviation Service is available to read and download below and has also been published on eTenders.

22 December 2021 : PQQ published on eTenders

The procurement process for the new Coast Guard aviation service will be undertaken in line with the Government Decision of 27 July 2021 and with EU procurement law, most notably European Union (Award of Public Authority Contracts) Regulation 2019 (Statutory Instrument No. 284/2016.

On Monday, 20 December, we commenced the first stage of the process; the release on eTenders of a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and Response document for candidates to complete. The PQQ sets out certain criteria to determine which Operators have the capacity to perform the contract. The closing date for replies to the PQQ is 26 January 2022.

23 December 2021: Arising from some queries received after the recently published PQQ mentioned above, the following clarification was issued via eTenders:

The PQQ states that the minimum requirement is three helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft on standby for Coast Guard aviation tasking. This is a minimum requirement for aircraft on standby, bidders can propose more. The number of bases and their location are not specified and proposals will be reviewed on their merits in relation to their ability to respond in a timely manner. Section 1.5 of the PQQ states “The precise number and location of bases have not been set as minimum requirements. It will be a matter for Tenderers at Stage 2 and later to propose a suitable configuration of bases”.

24 December 2021: With reference to the recently published PQQ, in relation to a query received from the market, as to whether a company could bid for fixed wing aircraft only, or is it mandatory to bid for a minimum of 3 helicopters and 1 fixed wing aircraft, the following clarification was issued via eTenders:

The intent is to ultimately select one proposal to provide the whole service. While paragraph 1.6 of the PQQ includes a provision to potentially issue a separate contract for fixed wing this is for administrative convenience only and interested parties should note that the requirements are not split into lots.

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Information Note on Business Case and Government Decision July 2021

Uploaded 9 August 2021

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Irish Coast Guard Webinar 2020 Presentation

Updated 1st December 2020

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eTenders Published Update

Uploaded 17th November 2020

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Your questions answered

Uploaded 17th November