New utility aircraft program gets off ground
By Ms. Tracey E AyresMay 14, 2018
The Program Executive Office for Aviation's Transport Aircraft Product Office has held an industry day to discuss a request for prototype proposals solicitation for the new fixed wing utility aircraft.
The event was an opportunity for members of the Vertical Lift Consortium (industry members that produce both vertical and horizontal lift aircraft) to find out what the Army needs from its new fleet of transport aircraft and to ask questions about the requirement.
The Army solicited a request for proposals last year but the solicitation was ultimately canceled when it was deemed that the sole proposal did not meet the requirement. The Army took a step back to see why it only received one proposal and after receiving feedback from industry, the Army determined that obtaining prototypes through an Other Transaction Authority was the best approach. The RPP allows industry to submit a FUA prototype in an effort to meet the Army's requirement which includes increased passenger and payload capability as well as increased fuel range.
This is the first time PEO Aviation used an OTA contracting process. The Defense Acquisition University defines Other Transaction Authority as "legal acquisition instruments other than contracts, grants or cooperative agreements that offer a streamlined method for carrying out prototype projects and transitioning successes into follow-on production." The OTA alters the rules allowing the acquisition process to move more quickly.
During the FUA industry day, industry members were informed about the Army's requirement and the OTA process. Once the Army releases the RPP, industry will be tasked with submitting technical white papers, outlining the approach the company would use to integrate the FUA mission equipment package components into a commercial derivative aircraft. The white papers are reviewed by the Fixed Wing Project Office and are based on their technical merit and ability to meet the program requirements. Industry will receive feedback from the Army, allowing them to refine their approach prior to submitting their official proposals. After all proposals are evaluated, two viable vendors will be selected to enter the prototype demonstration phase. The prototypes will be required to demonstrate technical requirements, production feasibility and military application.
"We had a good turnout today which means there is still interest in FUA," Lt. Col. Jeff Jablonski, the transport aircraft product manager, said. "I'm looking forward to seeing the prototypes that industry develops and how they can improve the mission of the transport aircraft fleet."
The next step in getting the FUA program off the ground will be the release of the RPP, slated to occur later this month.
Upon successful delivery of the two prototypes, PEO Aviation will evaluate the collected data and provide a recommendation to the Department of the Army for follow-on production.
The FUA will replace the Army's aging C-12 and C-26 aircraft that have reached the end of their useful life. These aircraft transport personnel and equipment throughout the country and in theater -- a mission FUA will continue to execute.
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