Airbus Defence and Space (Booth 401) is one of three bidders awaiting the outcome of Canada’s Fixed-Wing Search And Rescue (FWSAR) requirements. Proposals are in and a thorough evaluation is currently under way.
Airbus believes that its offering, based on the C295W medium tactical transport airframe, represents a highly reliable and proven solution. The company is the market leader in the light/ medium transport segment, having sold 165 aircraft to 23 operators.
Furthermore, it has produced five different missionised versions for various maritime and patrol duties, having sold such aircraft to Brazil, Chile, Oman, Portugal, and the Saudi interior ministry.
The smaller yet similar CN235 is also in service with the US Coast Guard as the HC-144 Ocean Sentry. Search and rescue is one of the tasks already undertaken by many of these aircraft.
These aircraft all use the FITS mission system developed by Airbus DS, which is also integrated by the airframe OEM. The proposal for the FWSAR contract is based on that same mission system, which has been integrated with a variety of sensors on other C295 special-mission platforms.
For the FWSAR proposal, Airbus is using the L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optic/infrared sensor turret, and an Elta radar.
Other equipment includes satellite communications and an automatic identification system (AIS), the latter being a maritime equivalent of identification friend or foe.
With virtually every programme there is a measure of customisation to meet specific customer requirements, but the main elements of the FWSAR proposal have already been integrated in other versions, and have seen extensive operational use.
Airbus is also highlighting the local content in its bid, claiming to be the “most Canadian” proposal.
The company has teamed with Provincial Aerospace as the lead support provider, and the two companies have formed a joint venture, AirPro, to conduct full set-up, transition and steady-state support for the FWSAR aircraft for the life of the fleet if the C295W is selected.
CAE has been selected as the training partner for the bid, subcontracted to Airbus DS and managed by AirPro. CAE would establish and provide a training centre, drawing on both its partnership with Airbus DS and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
There are already four C295 simulators in operation: one at the Airbus DS training centre at the Seville, Spain, factory, and others with air force customers in Brazil, Oman and Poland.
Other major Canadian companies involved in the programme are L-3 Wescam, which has provided EO/IR sensor turrets for a number of Airbus DS programmes, and Pratt & Whitney Canada, which is the OEM for the PW127G turboprops that power the C295W and would provide MRO support to the fleet.