Canada’s dedicated search and rescue (SAR) crews regularly put their lives on the line, relying on aircraft to overcome the significant challenges presented by dangerous weather and terrain.
The requirements for Canadian SAR aircraft have been well-documented – from demanding mountain contour search, Arctic and North Atlantic storms, to extreme temperatures, icing and precipitation. Airbus’ C295, which has been selected for the country’s Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Program, is perfectly suited to these duties.
First Airbus C295 aircraft arrives in Canada
Canada’s first of 16 C295s ordered from Airbus – designated the CC-295 for Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operations – arrived for duty in September 2020, with future deliveries to continue through 2022.
Building Canada’s first C295
The final assembly of C295s is performed at Airbus’ San Pablo industrial facility in Seville, Spain. This activity is divided into six phases taking place at different assembly stations. Work at each of the stations lasts approximately 14 days, after which the aircraft moves onto the flight line and then is authorised for customer delivery.
Check out the build-up and all assembly phases and preparations for Canada’s first C295:
See additional videos of the no. 1 Canadian C295 in its final assembly process:
The final assembly’s six stations
Each of the six final assembly stations features a specific phase in aircraft build-up process:
- First station: Wing integration, including power plant
- Second station: Fuselage-wing mating and installation of landing gear and other equipment,
- Third station: Integration of vertical and horizontal tailplanes with the fuselage and electrical/hydraulic installation,
- Fourth station: Doors, ramp, flight control integration and functional tests,
- Fifth station: Cabin furnishing and additional functional tests,
- Sixth station: Finishing and final functional tests
Innovation in Canada’s C295
The C295 variant that Canada is receiving is the latest version, equipped with winglets that make it capable of transporting more payload over larger distances, resulting in fuel savings as well as increased safety margins in mountainous regions.
Numerous enhancements are being introduced in the Canadian C295s, responding to the country’s specific search and rescue mission requirements. With the aircraft routinely operating in the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic, the C295s for Canada includes several improvement to guarantee crew safety, such as an advance avionics package compliant with the most demanding navigation regulations, reinforcements in the fuselage that improve ditching operations and a hatch to allow a rapid aircraft evacuation in case of a forced landing in the ocean.
Additionally, elements have been incorporated for aerodynamic drag reduction to improve time-on-station for the aircraft and increase the top speed during search and rescue missions. The C295 cabin interior is tailored to the Canadian Air Force’s operational, with such as a new wireless intercom system for crew communications, the increase of spaces for storing SAR equipment, additional lighting for medical evacuation duties and lighting compatible with the use of night vision systems.
Equipped for the mission
The C295’s 41-ft.-long cabin is the largest in its class, providing ample space for both sensors and mission systems, as well as crew rest and preparation areas. The aircraft’s key capabilities include:
- Multi-mode radar for detection, localisation, classification, and tracking of targets over water and land – all weather, day or night
- Maximum range of 200 nm, tracking 100+ surface targets while scanning
- Ocean-going fishing vessels or merchant ships between 80-200 nm
- Small craft or inflatable boats up to 35 nm
- SAR mode provides the capability of distinguishing and recognising ground contacts
- Stabilized, high magnification imaging sensors greatly extend detection, recognition, and identification range
- Multi-spectral imaging (daylight, low light, and thermal) enables search operations under sub-optimal conditions, such as overcast, dusk, and even complete darkness
- Target geo-location eases handoff to ground personnel
- EO/IR sensors lend themselves to search automation
- Search operations are more efficient and economical, with better outcomes”
Automatic Identification System (AIS)
- Capability to identify and locate ships, aircraft, land bases and navigational aids equipped with AIS transponders
- Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS)
- Ship data provided: position, dimensions, destination, ship name, MMSI and call sign
- TX/RX text messages capability