"We are in danger of having a new Sun" – SOS for firefighting helicopters

"We are in danger of having a new Sun" - SOS for firefighting helicopters

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The cost of the tender awarded to hire the firefighting helicopters from the Forestry Department is almost three times the original estimate, according to the Audit Service report, which was presented today before the House Audit Committee. The Auditor General, Odysseas Michaelidis, presenting the report, said that in addition to the increased costs, there is also an issue of gaps in the technical characteristics of the helicopters, which is also pointed out by the Police's report of facts.

Regarding the cost of the contract awarded by the Forestry Department for the rental of the helicopters, the Auditor General stated that in the initial estimate for the cost of the tender announced in March 2022, it would be €142.000 per month (whereas the previous contract was €133.000), an amount that was revised to €350.000 during the negotiation process, while the cost of the offer awarded in July 2022 finally amounted to €399.000.

As Mr. Michaelidis pointed out, the offer selected during the negotiation process was 287% higher than the initial estimate and amounted to €17,5 million over four years, while the initial estimated expenditure amounted to €6,8 million .He noted that the bid awarded, which was the lowest of the two that participated in the negotiation process, was 14% higher than the revised cost and appeared to have technical deficiencies, including the lack of a water release warning system, blue sky network monitoring system and cable collision warning system.

The justification given by the Forestry Department for the increased cost, according to what the Auditor General reported before the Commission, is that the original estimate was wrong as the actual market prices were higher. Mr Michaelidis pointed out that the Forestry Department would have the opportunity to revise this estimate, after the first cancellation of the tender announced in February 2022. If the initial cost estimate had been higher, he added, there would likely have been many more bids from companies. and other countries, which often do not express interest in very low-cost tenders.

In this regard, the Auditor General stated that "helicopters were received by a majority" on 4/8/2022 by the relevant committee and added that the committee accepted as "insignificant deviations" the shortcomings of the helicopter specifications required by the contract.

Absence of security certificates

In addition, Mr. Michailidis also referred to a report of facts by a member of the Police, who was asked to sign for the receipt of the helicopters, but refused to do so, saying that he found the absence of security certificates.

Speaking before the committee, engineer sergeant Marios Ioannou stated that, among other things, a helicopter insurance certificate under the European regulation, a pilot certificate, a logbook for maintenance and flight hours, an air carrier certificate were requested, but not presented, while the airworthiness certificate was unknown. origin.

The representative of the air force in the Control Committee, with his intervention, said that, if these data are valid, "if these helicopters fly again, we are in danger of having a new Helios".