Discovery Air joins Airbus Military C295 team for Canada

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Airbus Military's bid to meet Canada's future fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) requirements with a version of its C295 has been boosted by the addition of local support partner Discovery Air.

The companies on 10 October announced signing a memorandum of understanding to work together on the opportunity, with the Canadian firm - based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - to potentially secure a 20-year deal to support in-service aircraft.

 

Airbus Military

The C295 could be adapted to meet Ottawa's fixed-wing SAR requirement

Discovery Air chief executive Brian Semkowski describes the Spanish-developed type as offering "a low-risk, low-cost solution, high in Canadian content". Airbus Military notes that it already has previously-established relationships with C295 engine supplier Pratt & Whitney Canada, plus Canadian firms CAE, L-3 Wescam and Vector Aerospace.

Ottawa plans to replace its SAR-roled de Havilland Canada CC-115 (DHC-5) Buffalos with a new type via its planned FWSAR acquisition. Six of the type (pictured below) are currently assigned to the Royal Canadian Air Force's 442 Sqn at Comox air base in British Columbia.

 

Canadian Forces

Several rivals have been forming alliances in advance of a competition launch, with Alenia Aermacchi teamed with DRS Canada, General Dynamics Canada and Provincial Aerospace to offer the C-27J Spartan. Lockheed Martin and Cascade Aerospace are pitching the former's C-130J, which is already in Royal Canadian Air Force use as a tactical transport.

"Canada's request for proposals for the FWSAR has not been released; however, it is expected that the C295 will be compliant in all areas," Airbus Military says. The company claims that its proposal will offer a fuel cost saving of up to $1 billion compared with competitors over the life of the programme.

Semkowski says the air force could reduce response times by permanently basing some of its dedicated SAR assets in the north of the country; an area which he says "is increasing in terms of activity and importance".

Meanwhile, Canada's search-and-rescue fleet of AgustaWestland AW101 Cormorant helicopters has completed its first 10 years of service. The combined 14 aircraft have accumulated more than 50,000 operational hours during this time.