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Miami-Dade 2014 Helo Transaction Pending as Bell Takes County to Court, Reports Say

By S.L. Fuller | March 13, 2017
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Heliservicio Bell 412

A Heliservicio Bell Helicopter 412. Photo courtesy of Bell

A court hearing for a Miami-Dade (Florida) Fire Rescue Air Rescue Bureau helicopter deal is set for a hearing on March 31, local news outlets reported. In 2014, Miami-Dade planned to sell four Bell 412s to fund a delivery of new helicopters. But so far, reports said a rotorcraft transaction hasn’t yet gone through, and Bell is still taking the matter to court.

Bell reportedly accused Leonardo of improper contact with Miami-Dade’s selection committee during the tender process last September. As the county was leaning toward a deal with Bell, it raised concerns about the aircraft. This was reportedly prompted by Christopher Sirkis, a Leonardo sales representative. Sirkis reportedly raised questions on safety in the Bell aircraft and suggested the modification of the acquisition timeline. A Bell lobbyist filed a complaint against Sirkis, which lead to a court investigation. Bell obtained public records to help its case, up to the point where it wanted Miami-Dade to turn over phone logs and personal cellular bills for county employees on the selection team. When the county refused, Bell sued and won. The phone records showed conversations between Sirkis and Miami-Dade Internal Services' chief negotiator, Andrew Zawoyski, rescue-squad captain Antonio Hernandez and county pilot Rick Guthery.

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Bell is still pursuing records, reportedly including a request to AT&T for access to Guthery’s BellSouth email account. County attorney Brenda Kuhns, according to reports, said Bell was implementing a “fishing expedition” and plans to fight Bell’s demands.

According to its website, Miami-Dade operates four Bell 412EPs to support firefighting, emergency medical transport, and search and rescue operations.

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