Airbus has released the first photos of Canada’s new search and rescue aircraft in full colours after the CC-295 left the paint shop in Seville, Spain Tuesday.
The plane is one of 16 ordered by the Canadian government in 2016 as part of its Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Replacement programme. It will go through final preparations before it is handed over to the Royal Canadian Air Force later this year.
The programme includes construction of a new training facility in Comox, British Columbia as well as maintenance and support services. Airbus said the first pilots started training in the past few weeks in Spain, and the RCAF is performing preliminary acceptance tests on seven simulators and training devices.
With a price tag of $2.4 billion, the CC-295s will replace a mix of older Buffalo and Hercules aircraft. The RCAF also operates Cormorant helicopters for search and rescue, flying about 1,000 operations a year.
The new plane will be expected to cover one of the largest and most rugged search and rescue areas in the world, from the Arctic to the United States border, and from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
The CC-295 variant will be equipped with advanced avionics that can detect objects, such as a downed aircraft, from more than 40 km away. The fuselage has also been reinforced and a hatch incorporated in case crews have to ditch in the ocean.
Airbus also said the CC-295 will be able to transport more payload over longer distances, and the RCAF said the new aircraft “is expected to be even more reliable and available more often than our current fleets.”
The new planes will be deployed at Canada’s four search and rescue bases in Comox, Winnipeg, Trenton, Ontario, and Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
The RCAF is in the process of selecting a name for the new type. The commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, will have the final say.