Canadian contractors DRS Flight Safety and CMC Electronics have filed protests with Canada's International Trade Tribunal over the recommendation that Thales Systems should be awarded a C$60 million contract for the procurement of a new communications management system for the countries CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft.

While the precise nature of the protests remain undisclosed, released Trade Tribunal papers suggest a bid evaluation process that was not conducted according to the issued Request for Proposals.

Forming part of Canada's Aurora Incremental Modernisation Project (AIMP), the present difficulty has resulted in a stop work notice on the procurement until the tribunal's adjudication.

As originally scheduled, introduction of the new communications management system was to form part of the AIMP's Communications and Navigation Replacement Group (CNRG) that was to have been completed by May 2004.

Other identified CNRG elements include new navigation and flight instrumentation, new radios and a satellite communications system. Other AIMP elements comprise computer and sensor replacement and a follow-on upgrade package.