Air Canada preparing for retrojet rollout

AvatarBy Lisa Gordon | March 25, 2021

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 13 seconds.

Air Canada is preparing for the first revenue flight of its latest retrojet, a new Airbus A220-300 painted in the iconic grey, white and red livery of Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA). 

The eye-catching aircraft, registration C-GNBN, replaces a recently retired Airbus A319 that has sported the heritage livery since Air Canada’s 60th anniversary in 1997.

Air Canada’s latest retrojet, a new Airbus A220-300 painted in the iconic grey, white and red livery of Trans-Canada Air Lines, will begin revenue service in early April. Air Canada Photo

On March 22, Air Canada performed the customer acceptance flight for the new A220-300 at the Airbus factory in Mirabel, Quebec. According to Kevin Mio, the airline’s manager of corporate communications, the retrojet will begin revenue service in early April and will be assigned to traditional A220 routes, which will see it criss-crossing North America.  

Plane spotters across the continent will be on the lookout for the heritage livery, which was applied by 75 Airbus employees over a period of nine days. A total of four colors and 350 liters (93 gallons) of paint were used. The paint was applied using a new, more environmentally friendly process that is chromium free with a low volatile organic compound (VOC) content. The new method requires much less water, saving more than 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) per aircraft paint job. 

Air Canada performed the customer acceptance flight for the new A220-300 retrojet on March 22. Air Canada Photo

While the TCA logo featured a red maple leaf, the Air Canada name and rondelle logo were not officially adopted until Jan. 1, 1965. 

“Painting the A220 allows Air Canada to keep a connection to the airline’s rich heritage as the nation’s flag carrier,” said Mio.

Air Canada is the first major North American carrier to operate the A220-300 – designed by Bombardier in Quebec and originally named the C Series – placing a firm order in 2016 for 45 Canadian-built aircraft. 

The heritage livery was applied by 75 Airbus employees over a period of nine days. Air Canada Photo

The A220-300 entered operation with the flag carrier in January 2020, shortly before the outbreak of COVID-19. It is a pillar of the airline’s narrow-body fleet modernization plan, offering a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption per seat. The airline has configured its A220-300 with a two-class cabin featuring a total of 137 seats. 

Air Canada – which was forced to enact a drastic COVID-19 mitigation and recovery plan that included eliminating 20,000 jobs and accelerating the retirement of 79 older aircraft, including Boeing 767s, Airbus A319s and Embraer 190s — also announced in November that it had amended its A220 purchase agreement, deferring delivery of 18 aircraft and cancelling orders for 12 more. At the same time, the airline cancelled orders for 10 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft and deferred its remaining 16 deliveries. 

UPDATE: The retrojet began revenue service as AC404 from YYZ to YUL on April 5. Here, the retrojet is pictured at YYZ on April 5. Frederick Larkin Photo

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