The first public-private partnership contract ever entered into by the French MoD has been awarded to a consortium comprising Défense Conseil International and Proteus Hélicoptères. The contract relates to the purchase of helicopter flight hours by the flight training organisation of the French Armed Forces at Dax, in Southwest France. Under the contract, which has a term of 22 years, the French MoD will purchase a given volume of flight hours each year from the private partner who will undertake to make helicopters available to the MoD in accordance with the agreed flight programme and to maintain them.
For purposes of the contract, the consortium will purchase 36 EC120B aircraft from Eurocopter. The EC120B is a recently designed and user-friendly light single engine aircraft that is particularly well suited to training activities. It offers the lowest noise level within its category as well as a simple and easy maintenance programme, contributing to its low operating cost.
The financing of the acquisition of the helicopters by the private partner was arranged by Nova Capital, an asset finance arranging firm specialising in helicopter financing and leasing, and was entirely underwritten by Dexia Crédit Local and BRED Banque Populaire.
This is the first public-private partnership contract ever awarded by the French MoD pursuant to the ordinance of 17 June 2004 which introduced PFI type procurement in France.
The consortium Défense Conseil International-Proteus Hélicoptères was advised on the project by Mayer Brown (Matthieu de Varax and Pierre Sultan).