Airbus announced that the assembly of the first of Canada’s fleet of CC-295 Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft is well underway at the Airbus-Pre Final Assembly Line (Pre-FAL) in Tablada, Spain.
The front-, mid- and rear-fuselage sections have all been delivered to Tablada where they are being mated together before transfer to the nearby FAL in Seville to be joined by the wings, engines and other major components. FAL operations will begin in late 2018 leading to roll-out of the aircraft in the first quarter of 2019.
Delivery to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) of this first of 16 ordered aircraft will be in in late 2019.
Canada announced that it had selected the Airbus C295W for its Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) Program in late 2016. These aircraft will take over the search and rescue duties currently being done by six CC-115 Buffalo and 12 CC-130 Hercules aircraft.
The contract will provide a complete, modern and technologically advanced search and rescue solution, including maintenance and support services up to 2042, provided through a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace. Airbus will also construct a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox, British Columbia, and provide ongoing maintenance and support services.
The CC-295 features substantial Canadian content. Every C295 is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, pilots will be trained at a new facility developed by CAE, and the electro-optical systems for FWSAR will be provided by L3 Wescam. In-Service Support for the life of the program will be provided by AirPro, a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace.
The new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft will carry out critical, life-saving search and rescue missions across Canada’s vast and challenging territory, including the Arctic. The aircraft will be even more reliable and available more often than our current fleet.
Using integrated sensors, crews will be able to locate persons or objects—such as downed aircraft—from more than 40 kilometres away, even in low-light conditions. This will contribute to improving the overall effectiveness of searches. It is anticipated that the on-scene search time will be reduced with the use of these enhanced sensor capabilities.
The aircraft will also use state-of-the-art communications systems that will allow search and rescue personnel to share real-time information with partners on the ground. The existing fleets will be maintained and operated throughout the transition to maintain search and rescue capabilities.
In service, the aircraft will join five Airbus CC-150 aircraft used in the air-to-air refueling, transport, and VIP travel roles.