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A training variant of the CC-295 that will be used to instruct Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) maintenance technicians is now flying across the country towards CFB Comox, B.C., the home of search and rescue training in Canada.
Flown by an Airbus Defence and Space flight crew, the fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) aircraft maintenance trainer (AMT) landed in St. John’s, N.L., before arriving at CFB Greenwood, N.S., on Jan. 30.
It left Greenwood on Jan. 31 and is making its way across the country, stopping at the RCAF bases where it will eventually be in service (Greenwood, Trenton, Ont., and Winnipeg, Man.) before arriving at its new home at Comox.
According to 14 Wing Greenwood public affairs officer Capt. Matt Zalot, the AMT attracted much attention from RCAF members on base, who currently fly the aging CC-130H Hercules in a search and rescue role.
The arrival of the AMT represents a key milestone in Canada’s FWSAR aircraft replacement program, said the RCAF.
“As with any program, the FWSAR project is one of milestones, and the arrival of the AMT is an important one on the overall journey towards operational implementation of the CC-295 fleet,” said Isabelle Latulippe, FWSAR project manager.
The AMT is for training purposes only and is not equipped to perform search and rescue missions. It is not part of Canada’s order, signed in December 2016, for 16 CC-295 aircraft.
Upon arrival in Comox, the RCAF said the aircraft will be disassembled and then reassembled inside the new training centre as a maintenance training aid.
On Dec. 20, Airbus announced via Twitter that Canada had accepted the first of its 16 CC-295s at the manufacturer’s facility in Seville, Spain, and that it would be ferried to its home base at Comox sometime in mid-2020. Members of RCAF 418 Search and Rescue Operational Training Squadron have been at Airbus’s International Training Centre since last fall to evaluate and train on the aircraft.
In November, Skies reported that complications with the CC-295’s technical manuals could delay the first delivery. Airbus unveiled the aircraft in RCAF livery in mid-October.
Last July, the RCAF asked the public to help choose the name of the new search and rescue aircraft, offering five choices: Canso II, Guardian, Iris, Kingfisher and Turnstone. About 33,000 people voted for their favourites and RCAF Commander LGen Al Meinzinger was set to make the final decision. However, no announcement has been made to date. The RCAF is reportedly in the midst of legal procedures associated with using its selected name and no further details have been released.
Canada is receiving the latest C-295 variant, featuring winglets for fuel savings and increased performance. The aircraft has an advanced avionics suite, fuselage reinforcements and a hatch for rapid evacuation in case of a forced water landing.
Airbus tailored the cabin interior to meet RCAF operational requirements, with a new wireless intercom system for crew communications, increased equipment storage space, brighter lighting for medevac treatment, and lighting compatible with the use of night vision systems.
The CC-295s will eventually replace the de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo and Lockheed Martin CC-130H Hercules fleets that currently perform the search and rescue role.