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Complications with the technical manuals for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-295 search and rescue (SAR) aircraft could delay delivery of the first plane.
Manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space unveiled the first C295W (CC-295 is its Canadian designation) in its distinctive RCAF search and rescue paint scheme in mid-October at its production facility in Seville, Spain, and was anticipating handover by the end of the year.
While members of the SAR test and evaluation flight of 434 Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron have been in Seville since early fall to assess the aircraft and complete various flight and technical manuals, the Air Force has yet to accept the aircraft.
“There have been challenges in the completion of the required technical manuals, which are required for all aspects of safe aircraft operation — from flying to maintenance,” the RCAF and assistant deputy minister (materiel), the military’s acquisition branch, said in a statement.
“Technical manuals are a critical component when it comes to the safe operation of any fleet. The safety of our aviators is simply not something we are willing to compromise on. We continue to collaborate with Airbus, prioritizing the work required in order to deliver the new search and rescue aircraft safely and effectively.”
In a statement to CTV News, an Airbus spokesperson said, “Work on operational technical publications is under review to ensure these are tailored to the customer’s requirements and additional time is required.”
Airbus will deliver 16 of the twin-propeller CC-295 aircraft to replace the de Havilland CC-115 Buffalo and Lockheed Martin CC-130 Hercules used in a search and rescue role. Despite the delay, the RCAF is still expecting to bring the first aircraft to 19 Wing Comox. B.C., by April 2020.
“While it is not yet known if this will cause a delay in final delivery, we remain optimistic that the supplier can work towards an acceptable solution so that our on-site testing and evaluations can be done prior to flying the first aircraft to Canada next spring, as previously planned,” said a spokesperson.
In its statement to CTV, Airbus said it had been working “tirelessly to meet the demanding delivery milestones of the Canadian [fixed-wing search and rescue] FWSAR program and to date the company has successfully completed design, development, certification and manufacture of the aircraft, as well as the first stages establishing the program’s support operations in Canada.”
In addition to the first aircraft, six more CC-295s are in final assembly or completing flight test.
Aircrew and maintainers with 418 Search and Rescue Operational Training Squadron, reactivated on July 11, 2019, began initial cadre training on the CC-295 at Airbus’ facility in Spain in September. The aircraft will operate from four main bases in Comox, Winnipeg, Man., Trenton, Ont., and Greenwood, N.S.