On July 4 Airbus Defence flew the first example of the C295 for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). The inaugural flight was undertaken at Airbus’s Seville facility, where the final assembly line for the C295 is located. The flight lasted for 1 hour 27 minutes.
In December 2016 the government of Canada awarded Airbus a contract to deliver 16 C295s in answer to the RCAF’s Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) requirement. To be designated CC-295 in RCAF service, the aircraft will provide a long-range SAR capability to replace aging CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules aircraft. As the world’s secondlargest country in terms of area, with harsh terrain and climate and bordering three oceans, Canada has unique SAR challenges that require long range and the ability to operate from austere forward locations. The C295 was selected in preference to the Leonardo C-27J and Embraer KC-390.
The first CC-295 is due to be handed over before the end of the year to permit the start of operational testing. Another five aircraft are in various stages of assembly at Seville. In late summer the first RCAF crews are due to begin training in Airbus’s international training center, also at Seville.
In the meantime, Airbus’s training partner, CAE, is constructing an FWSAR training center at CFB Comox, British Columbia, for long-term training of RCAF air and maintenance crews. Seven simulator and flight training devices are already undergoing tests prior to installation in the new center. As part of Team Cormorant, CAE expects to add training capability for the CH-149 Cormorant mid-life update alongside the FWSAR facility. The CH-149 is the RCAF’s primary long-range rotary-wing SAR asset and will work closely with the CC-295.
In-service support is an important element of the FWSAR deal, and Airbus has formed the AirPro SAR Services joint venture with PAL to deliver maintenance for the fleet, as well as oversee other key aspects of the program’s implementation and infrastructure. By January this year Airbus noted that 86 percent of the work performed so far has been conducted by Canadian companies. In addition to PAL and CAE, key local stakeholders are Pratt & Whitney Canada (PW127G engines) and L3 Wescam (MX-15 EO/IR sensors). The search radar is being provided by IAI in the form of the Elta ELM-2022A(V)3.
Canada’s CC-295s are based on the latest production-standard C295 and feature winglets for improved range/payload performance. Specific enhancements include advanced avionics and navigation, Airbus’s Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) mission suite, aerodynamic refinements to increase speed and time-on-station, structural reinforcements to improve ditching characteristics, and a hatch for rapid evacuation in the event of ditching. Internally the CC-295 is fitted with a new wireless intercom, night-vision-compatible lighting, extra lighting for medevac duties, and more storage space for SAR equipment.
In RCAF service the CC-295s are due to be based at Comox (British Columbia, 442 Search and Rescue Squadron), Winnipeg (Manitoba, 435 Squadron), Trenton (Ontario, 424 Squadron), and at Greenwood (Nova Scotia, 413 Squadron).