'Additional time is required': Airbus confirms delays for Canada's new rescue plane
On March 8, 2019, the first of 16 new CC-295 fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft rolled off the assembly line in Spain. The project will now miss its Dec. 1 deadline for delivery. (Royal Canadian Air Force)
VICTORIA – The European manufacturer of Canada's new search-and-rescue planes says the delivery of the aircraft has stalled after concerns arose about the planes' operating manuals.
Airbus was supposed to hand over the first of 16 new twin-propeller planes to the Canadian Armed Forces by Dec. 1. The company now confirms that deadline will be blown.
Airbus says it's undergoing a review of the plane's operating manual after the Canadian military refused delivery on the multibillion-dollar fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft replacement (FWSAR) project.
"Airbus has worked tirelessly to meet the demanding delivery milestones of the Canadian FWSAR program and to date the company has successfully completed design, development, certification and manufacture of the aircraft, as well as the first stages establishing the program’s support operations in Canada," spokespeople for the company said in a statement to CTV News on Thursday.
"Despite this, work on operational technical publications is under review to ensure these are tailored to the customer’s requirements and additional time is required."
While the exact length of the delays is uncertain, industry sources say the deadline will be missed by a matter of weeks.
The manuals, which contain thousands of pages, provide pilots, aircrew and technicians with instructions for operating and maintaining the aircraft.
The federal government ordered the Airbus CC-295 in December 2016 to replace the decades-old de Havilland CC-115 Buffalo and Lockheed Martin C-130E Hercules in the search-and-rescue role.
The initial $2.4-billion deal with Airbus includes the construction of a new training facility at 19 Wing Comox, plus an additional $2.3 billion to support and maintain the aircraft for 15 years.
Royal Canadian Air Force crews arrived in Spain in late summer to begin training on the plane at Airbus's international flight centre.
Once operational, the search and rescue aircraft will be based in Comox, Winnipeg, Trenton and Nova Scotia. Comox is where all military and civilian personnel will be trained to operate the planes.