Historical archive

The third NAWSARH industry day - Opening speech

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Justice and the Police

"Norway will acquire new Search and Rescue helicopters, and we are now closer to starting the procurement process," said State Secretary Terje Moland Pedersen in his speech at the third NAWSARH industry day.

I would like to begin by welcoming you all to this third industry day under the Norwegian SAR helicopter program. I hope that the information You receive here today and the discussions that will be held with the project team over the two next days will continue to encourage you as suppliers of helicopters and equipment to participate in a fair and open procurement process to come.

Let the following be clear, Norway will acquire new Search and Rescue helicopters, and we are now closer to starting the procurement process.

The last time we met, here in Stavanger June 2009, I hoped together with you, that the process forward would be speedy. The history has shown us something else. The time elapsed since then has, however been used fruitfully to perform a thorough assessment of the existing and future search and rescue capacity needs. The Norwegian regime of Quality Assurance of larger investments (so called KS1) requires that the NAWSARH program must undergo a thorough study. The need and the expectations related to the service performed by the new helicopters must be analyzed, major strategies and major requirements must be established and finally alternative solutions must be identified and analyzed including cost effect on the society. The NAWSARH project have during the past months concluded with the analyses and the final analyse material has been reviewed by an external quality assurer in order to reduce risk. This time I have the pleasure to tell you that the KS1 process has been finalised to the Governments satisfaction.

I will personally express my gratitude to all of you for the patient you have shown to the project and the willingness you have given to support the program needs of information and participation. I can assure you that the project has been a hard working team, to support the changing challenges from the quality assurers.

The Government has made their decision related to the new SAR- helicopters based on the documented work that has looked into the past history statistics, large accidents situations, future developments and risk based scenarios. In addition the study has given us a clear understanding of the market possibilities and the capabilities that the different helicopter types and sizes represent. The history shows that 90% of all distress situations occurs over land and out to sea 50 Nm of straight baseline. Among the remaining situations, 99 % is within 150 Nm out from our straight baseline. Looking at the number of persons involved 30% is from onshore situations, typically 1-3 involved. The remaining is spread out with 90 % of the persons in distress are within 100Nm, 99% of the persons in distress are within 150 Nm offshore.

The future development expectations is an increased activity level generally in the Norwegian inland and ocean waters, especially up north. This will lead to an increase in number of incidents and requests for assistance from the rescue helicopters. Large accidents randomly occurs every second year. The risk based scenarios developed shows that lot of persons are at risk with possibilities for a high number of persons i the same distress situation especially over Norwegian waters.

At one hand this type of situations is rather demanding and is calling for huge capacity. On the other hand a too large helicopter will produce more negative effects on the rescue scene itself than smaller helicopters. We have looked at the balance, and the decision is supported by political ambitions about how far away, how fast and how many persons in distress there shall be capacity to rescue.

Although most of the SAR missions are close to the shoreline or inland, the SAR service is dimensioned to tackle occasional large sea/ocean events. Many organisations have their members life linked to the geographically large and sometimes hostile Norwegian waters. Employers and employee organisations have showed great interest in the renewal of the Norwegian SAR helicopters.

The Norwegian government is working towards high quality Search and Rescue helicopter service.

The government ambition is to ensure the public that the replacement for Sea King will be high quality helicopters capable of rescuing high number of persons in distress, to an acceptable price. This is the rationale behind the recent selected ambition and related concept.

The ambition is based on the balance between our human values and starting point that we always want to be able to rescue all person from any distress situation and that there is no possibility to dimension a rescue service for all the extreme situations.

With this balance in mind, we have decided an rescue ambition that will take care of most situations and in a speedier and safer way than today. The ambition is to be able to come up to a rescue scene at any point 150 Nm straight out to sea of the straight baseline within two hours in order to return with 20 rescuees to a safe haven onshore. This is an ambition towards persons in distress that the helicopter shall fulfil. Overperformance will be taken into account in a future evaluation process. The worst thing for a rescue team is not to able to fulfil their mission and leaving persons in distress behind based on a situation where the equipment is limited for the mission.

The selected concept is therefore building in robustness in number of helicopter and base locations to be able to support one rescue scene with rescue helicopter from the neighbour base. This will also safeguard the rescue team from undesirable situations.

The selected concept is to keep the existing bases on 100% readiness with a uniform, equal fleet of multipurpose large helicopter (10 – 20 ton class) in the number of 15-20 new helicopters. The Government will decide the ambition and the solution/concept for Svalbard in the next project phase.

The Government is eager to replace the today’s Sea King with new all weather SAR helicopters as soon as practical possible. We do, however realise that this eagerness must not compromise the quality assurance processes (The so called KS2 process) we are into now. The fact that the replacement of Sea King will have consequences for the next 30-40 years, leads us to a situation there we have to be quite sure of the best procurement and contract strategy, requirements set forth and budget numbers with uncertainties. The project has assured me that they have started preparation of documents for this phase already.

We want you as the professional industry partners to help us make the right choices in due time and help us shortening the time needed for the coming phases. The information we have today is that an acquisition process up to a signed contract may take at least two years from government decision to a signed contract. You have told us a building process of three year shall be accounted for. There is still close to one year in front of us before we expect parliament decision to release tender documents. This mean we foresee at least five years time span from now until we see the first new helicopter ready to be phased into service in Norway.  The aim is to run a process where the first new helicopters could be phased in from 2016.

The Norwegian SAR service is the strict responsibility of the Ministry of Justice and the Police. The future operator of the new helicopter will be the Royal Norwegian Air force. In time, there will be six fully equipped SAR helicopter bases on the Norwegian mainland in addition to Svalbard. The bases are spread around the coastline to cover most of the land and waters under Norwegian responsibility. Every mainland base consists of at least one AWSAR Helicopter at 100% readiness with a serious back-up regime. The helicopter shall be operated by six professional crewmembers including a medical doctor on site for immediate response.

We are looking for fifteen to twenty new AWSAR Helicopters, dependent on the decision for Svalbard and the helicopter need for maintenance. Island will need additional 3 to 4. A well supported and reliable helicopter will enable reduction in number of helicopter needed. The risk is on our hand, however the organisations that can control the risk is sitting here in front of me. The process will seek to place risk at the hand that are best to handle the input factors.

The SAR helicopter is considered to be an emergency preparedness resource. Our vision is that the service shall be predictable, solid, visible and robust with capacity to reach all potential emergency situations throughout the whole year 24/7 in the Norwegian rescue responsibility area at shortest possible time. 

The main requirements have been achieved though the concept study and have been derived from society and effect goals. The major issue is a multi engine, long range, wide capacity, all weather Search and Rescue helicopter, equipped with state of the art search and rescue equipment and built to the latest and best possible safety standards. It is of utmost importance that the acquisition program finds sound solutions for maintenance, logistics and training support.

Norway has established an acquisition project under the strict responsibility and lead of the Ministry of Justice and the Police. The project mandate is to ensure acquisition and deliveries of the best possible AWSAR Helicopters in time, based on approved specification and further ensure a seamless phased in operation and related logistic support and training. A contract shall be established that ensure low risk for the public. The life span for the helicopters will be 30 – 40 years. The procurement process shall be well inside the public laws and regulations and the competition shall be held in a correct, impartial and objective manner. Its important that all of the potential candidates participates in such a process.

Our first goal now is to ensure completion of the quality regime and forward the recommendation for the parliament to have the acquisition program approved and started.

Again, welcome to the event and good luck to you all. I will hand over the forum to the project leader Mr. Kjell Jacob Johannessen who will take you through the recent decided phase, program for the next steps and give further presentation materials.