By David Pugliese
The Royal Canadian Air Force and the Department of National Defence have created new working groups to prepare for the arrival of the Airbus C295W fixed-wing search and rescue planes (FWSAR).
Procurement Minister Judy Foote and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced December 8 that the government had selected the Airbus C295W aircraft for its new FWSAR aircraft. The RCAF will receive 16 C295Ws. The contract will also include in-service support, provided through a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace.
DND spokesman Evan Koronewski told Esprit de Corps that the working groups include those to look at operational requirements and infrastructure. Based on their recommendations, a plan will be produced and implemented to ensure the RCAF is prepared for the delivery of the C295 fleet, he added.
“The first aircraft will be delivered in 2019 in Comox, B.C., three years after contract award and is expected to meet its initial operational capability by 2021,” Koronewski explained.
The existing CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules will continue operating until the new fixed-wing platform has reached its full operational capability, at the four main operating bases of Comox, Winnipeg (Manitoba), Trenton (Ontario), and Greenwood (Nova Scotia), he added.
Nicolas Boucher, a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada, told Esprit de Corps that the final aircraft of the 16-strong fleet is expected to be delivered in 2022.
He said training of aircrew will have started by the arrival of the first plane in 2019.
The 2022 arrival of the final aircraft will also mark the beginning of the long-term maintenance and support services for the aircraft, Boucher said.
The contract between Airbus and Canada covers the following:
delivery of 16 C295W aircraft;
infrastructure and set-up activities, such as training and engineering services;
construction of a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox, British Columbia;
maintenance and support services.
Also included are tools and test equipment, spare parts and access to the necessary technical data for military personnel, the government noted.
The contract for the initial period of 11 years is valued at $2.4-billion and includes delivery, set-up of support systems (training centre, initial spare parts, tools, support and test equipment, electronic information environment, etc.) and the first five years of maintenance and support of the aircraft, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.
It also includes the opportunity for Airbus to earn contract extensions for the operation and maintenance of the aircraft in increments of one to three years, for up to a possible additional 15 years. This could potentially extend the maintenance and support services until 2043, for a total value of $4.7-billion, according to the Public Services and Procurement Canada.
The Canadian government said it expects Airbus Defence and Space will continue to develop strategic relationships with Canada’s aerospace and defence firms and will undertake business activities in Canada equal to the contract value. Such business activities include manufacturing major systems on the FWSAR aircraft, such as engines, radars and sensors, as well as researching and developing new product lines in Canada. This will open up opportunities for these firms to enter new markets in partnership with PAL Aerospace, the federal government pointed out.
The C295W features substantial Canadian content. Simon Jacques, head of Airbus Defence and Space in Canada, said about 20 per cent of the aircraft is already made up of Canadian-made systems. Every C295 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127G turboprop engines driving a pair of Hamilton Standard 586-F six-bladed propellers.
In addition, pilots and technicians will be trained at a new facility developed by CAE in Comox, B.C. The electro-optical systems for the aircraft will be provided by L-3 WESCAM of Burlington, Ontario. AirPro, a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace of St John’s, Newfoundland, will provide in-service support for the life of the program.
The federal government noted additional industry partners that will contribute to maintain the FWSAR capability include Heroux-Devtek to repair landing gear; Hope Aero to repair propellers; Sonovision for technical publications; CLS Lexi-Tech for translation of publications; and Precision Aero to repair component parts on the aircraft.