Attached is the GAO decision on the protest, a bit dry but interesting reading. I brought in a table from the report. Leonardo got Outstanding's in all 3 categories, while Airbus got 2 Good and 1 outstanding. The technical rating was considered more important than price, which was good as Airbus bid LOWER than Leonardo, but by just a little. How a dual engine rotocraft is more economical that a single engine is 'interesting'
The agency evaluated the final proposals of Airbus and Leonardo as follows:
Technical Rating Good Outstanding
Risk Moderate Low
Aircraft System Good Outstanding
Risk Moderate Low
Mgt and Support Outstanding Outstanding
Risk Low Low
Total Evaluated Price $1.3128 billion $1.398 billion
AR, Exh. 19, Source Selection Advisory Council (SSAC) Proposal Analysis Report
(PAR) at 3.
As relevant here, for the aircraft system subfactor, the agency assigned the following to
Airbus’s proposal: one significant weakness, two weaknesses, and eight risk reducers
under the overall compliance element; one strength under the warfighting skills training
element; and one strength under the safety element. AR, Exh. 17, SSEB Final Report
at 62. For the same subfactor, the agency assigned the following to Leonardo’s
proposal: five risk reducers under the overall compliance element; and one strength
each under the instrument training, navigation training, warfighting skills training, and
safety elements. Id. at 25-26.
Where it seems to have come apart is in the autorotation portion.
In its evaluation of Airbus’s proposal under the overall compliance
element, the agency assigned one significant weakness and two weaknesses as
follows: a significant weakness for autorotation (AV-027); a weakness for mission
profile on low-side emergency procedure (AV-008); and a weakness for cockpit controls
and display (AV-121).5
There is a limited, acceptable rotor speed range (Nr range) for continuous operation
during autorotation, where no damage to the helicopter occurs. Id. The pilot can go
above this acceptable rotor speed range, and into a transient range, for a limited time.
Exceeding the transient range can cause, at a minimum, helicopter damage. Id.
Excessive Nr over-speeds can cause catastrophic failure of the rotor system, resulting
in a crash.
Specifically, the agency identified the following three issues as related to Airbus’s
autorotation performance during the SPD flights: (1) engine toggle switch allowed
unguarded IDLE to OFF movement, which could result in unintended engine shutdown;
(2) procedures to put the engines to IDLE mode for practice autorotations required the
instructor pilot to remove hands from flight controls, which could cause delay in the
instructor pilot’s response in case of student errors; and (3) the rotor speeds at which
the engine decoupled from and recoupled with the rotor allowed too narrow a margin for
a student pilot to conduct the power recovery autorotation maneuver.
This is where things did not go well with the evaluation. It indicated that a beginning pilot scared sh**less
about to do his first autoland maneuver could basically go above redline (107.5% of turbine shaft speed) to 112%
for up to the allowed 12 seconds. Smart move - instruct the beginning pilots that aircraft limits can be exceeded.
In real life problems requiring an autoland will begin at some shaft speed at 100% or below, it appears that all the [deleted] values
indicates that the minimum speed at the end of the autorotate was higher in the Airbus, giving a narrower performance band to
execute this critical manuever for the first time. The GAO report didn't discuss how Leonardo did, but it was rated Outstanding.
Airbus stated that “[a]t the time of decouple, the N2 will decrease
from [DELETED]% to [DELETED]% N2 and stabilize,” which will offer a range of
[DELETED]-107.5% Nr continuous range for the autorotation training. Id. Airbus also
stated that the agency could utilize a 12-second transient range up to 112% Nr for
increased flexibility in autorotation training maneuvers.
Airbus also felt it got no credit for being a dual engine vs single engine. However the RFP provided no evaluation criteria for
single vs dual engine, thus no credit was givenhttps://www.gao.gov/assets/710/707022.pdf