Airbus announced that the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)’s third CC-295 Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft is completing production flights ahead of its delivery process. The requirements for Canadian SAR aircraft have been well-documented – from demanding mountain contour search, Arctic and North Atlantic storms, to extreme temperatures, icing and precipitation. Airbus’ C295, which has been selected for the country’s Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Program, is perfectly suited to these duties.
In late 2016, Canada announced that it had selected the Airbus C295W for its FWSAR program. The contract to Airbus includes 16 C295 aircraft and all In-Service Support elements including, training and engineering services, the construction of a new Training Centre in Comox, British Columbia, and maintenance and support services. The Air Force took delivery of the first aircraft last year. The RCAF’s CC-295 FWSAR fleet is expected to achieve initial operational capability in 2020 and full operational capability in 2022.
The Airbus C295 variant that Canada is receiving is the latest version, equipped with winglets that make it capable of transporting more payload over larger distances, resulting in fuel savings as well as increased safety margins in mountainous regions. With the aircraft routinely operating in the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic, the C295s for Canada includes several improvement to guarantee crew safety, such as an advance avionics package compliant with the most demanding navigation regulations, reinforcements in the fuselage that improve ditching operations and a hatch to allow a rapid aircraft evacuation in case of a forced landing in the ocean.
The C-295 is a twin-turboprop tactical military transport aircraft, and is currently manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Spain. The C-295 is manufactured and assembled in the Airbus Military facilities in the San Pablo Airport, in Seville, Spain. It is a development of the Spanish–Indonesian transport aircraft CASA/IPTN CN-235, but with a stretched fuselage, 50% more payload capability and new Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines. The C-295 made its maiden flight in 1998. The C-295’s main competitor is the C-27J Spartan, manufactured initially by Alenia Aermacchi and now by Leonardo S.p.A..