The first Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-295 Kingfisher fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft has arrived at 19 Wing, Canadian Forces Base Comox, in British Columbia, Canada.
According to a statement from aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the CC-295 aircraft landed at its home base on September 17. CC-295 Kingfisher is the Canadian military designation of the search and rescue variant of the Airbus C295 (earlier designated EADS CASA C-295) twin-turboprop tactical airlifter.
“As outlined in Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, it is essential that our search and rescue crews have the modern and effective aircraft they need to carry out this critical work. I am thrilled at the arrival of this first CC-295 Kingfisher in Comox as it represents another successful milestone for this project, while also supporting our mission of being strong at home”, said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.
“The selfless dedication of our aviators and the search and rescue services they provide to Canadians brings great credit to the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Armed Forces. The transition to the new fixed-wing search and rescue fleet is a tremendous opportunity for us and one that we take on with determination and pride”, said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
“Airbus is really proud to be able to celebrate this important milestone: the arrival of the first out of 16 Fixed Wing Search and Rescue C295 at the Canadian Forces Base Comox. Thanks to the excellent collaboration with Canadian officials we have overcome the challenges caused by COVID-19 and we were able to deliver the aircraft. Despite the current pandemic, we are confident of achieving the program target of six deliveries by the end of this year. We look forward to our continued collaboration and to the C295 Canada”, said Airbus Defence and Space Chief Executive Officer, Dirk Hoke, on a video statement displayed during an official event held today at the 19 Wing Comox Air Base.
The name “Kingfisher” was selected for five names which were shortlisted including Canso II, Guardian, Iris and Turnstone.
“Within the First Nations of the Northwest, the kingfisher has long been recognized for its speed and agility, as well as its keen searching and hunting skills. Found all across Canada, the kingfisher well represents the abilities of our own search and rescue crews to accomplish their lifesaving role,” said a Department of National Defence statement announcing the name for the aircraft.
This is the first of the 16 aircraft contracted with Airbus in December 2016 under the RCAF’s Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement (FWSAR) project. The contract also includes all In-Service Support elements, training and engineering services, the construction of a new training centre in Comox, British Columbia, and maintenance and support services.
Airbus has formally delivered three aircraft to date, the second of which is scheduled to arrive in country in the coming weeks. Deliveries will continue until 2022.
Specifically designed to perform search and rescue missions across Canada, the CC-295 aircraft is equipped with integrated sensors that will allow crews to locate persons or objects from more than 40 kilometers away, even in low-light conditions. Its communications systems will increase interoperability with other search and rescue assets, such as the CH-149 Cormorant. The fleet of 16 aircraft will be replacing the CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules fleets in their search and rescue role at four locations across Canada.
The first aircraft will remain at 19 Wing Comox while the RCAF completes aircrew training, followed by operational testing. During the transition period and while the CC-295 Kingfisher is being operationalized, fixed-wing search and rescue services will continue through existing fleets, along with the CH-149 Cormorant and CH-146 Griffon helicopters.
Contract Details and Timelines:
• A $2.4 billion contract (including taxes) for 16 new CC-295 fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft to replace Canada’s fleets of Buffalo and Hercules H aircraft was awarded to Airbus Defence and Space on December 1, 2016. The contract is for a period of 11 years, with the option to extend up to an additional 15 years of in-service support.
• This first aircraft, tail number 501, was formally accepted by Canada in Spain on December 18, 2019, and has now been delivered to Comox following additional testing and evaluations.
• A maintenance trainer aircraft arrived at 19 Wing Comox, B.C. in February 2020. This aircraft was disassembled upon arrival, and reassembled inside the new training centre.
• The CC-295 Kingfisher will be based in Comox, Trenton, Greenwood, and Winnipeg. The aircraft will arrive in phases as crews are trained in turn at each location.
• Part of this project includes the construction of a new training centre, which is being built in Comox by Canadian training leader CAE. It includes ten classrooms, as well as sophisticated training devices such as a full-flight simulator, a cockpit procedures trainer, a sensor station simulator, and an aircraft maintenance trainer. The centre will be used to train both maintenance and aircrews.
• Canadian company AirPro will provide day-to-day management of all in-service support for the provision of engineering, logistics, maintenance, training, IT systems, infrastructure and materiel support throughout the contracted CC-295 life cycle.