Is senator trying to force CN-235 on Coast Guard?
Aviation safety advocates are concerned that a single senator is trying to force the EADS CASA CN-235 on the U.S. Coast Guard, despite Coast Guard concerns about the aircraft's limitations and engine reliability.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) has been pushing Congress to fund procurement of the CN-235 for the Coast Guard's Deepwater program. Allegations of influence-buying have arisen due to EADS CASA's announcement that it would build production facilities in Shelby's home state. While such influence-buying is not illegal, it nevertheless raises questions about the integrity of the senator's insistence that the Coast Guard wants and needs the CN-235.
Coast Guard officials seem to indicate that they don't want the European-made plane.
In 2004, according to Sea Power magazine, Shelby took the Coast Guard to task for his dissatisfaction with how the service was running the Deepwater program, and the fact that the Coast Guard used federal funds to upgrade its existing helicopters instead of buying the airplane.
"Sen. Shelby remains concerned with the Coast Guard's management of the Deepwater procurement and how the Coast Guard is prioritizing use of its funds," a Shelby aide said at the time. "The Coast Guard and [the White House Office of Management and Budget] appear to have lost sight of the priorities of legacy replacement and the goal of reduced operational expenses."
Shelby was upset that in January 2004, the Coast Guard decided to re-engine its HH-65 Dolphin helicopters with $67.7 million from the Deepwater budget instead of buying an EADS CASA plane.