Representatives of the Canadian government are meeting up with industry to discuss the nation's nascent fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) aircraft replacement programme.

"Face-to-face meetings are being held this week with interested suppliers, and the last scheduled element of the engagement with industry - the request for information on direct industrial and regional benefits - will be posted next week," says Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC).

Based on information gleaned from industry, PWGSC says it expects to post a formal request for proposals for the new aircraft later this summer on its government electronic tendering system website. On 29 January 2013, the Canadian government agency posted a letter of interest, which was followed up with nine more amendments, to help draft the FWSAR requirements, PWGSC says.

The FWSAR programme is aimed at replacing Canada's aged fleet of de Havilland Canada CC-115 Buffalo (below) and legacy-model Lockheed Martin CC-130 Hercules in the search and rescue role. A key requirement for the FWSAR aircraft will be to conduct search and rescue missions over the vast reaches of northern Canada, which covers a land area greater than twice the size of the US state of Alaska but has less than one-seventh of the population.

 Canada Buffalo - Canadian Forces

Canadian Forces

A number of potential bidders have expressed interest in the FWSAR programme. Airbus Military is promoting the C295; Alenia Aermacchi will offer the C-27J in a "Team Spartan" arrangement with DRS and General Dynamics Canada; Bell Boeing will propose a variant of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor; and Lockheed is expected to pitch the C-130J.

Other potential contenders include airframer Viking Air, based in Victoria, British Columbia, which is expected to offer a new-build variant of the CC-115.

Source: Flight International