The Royal Canadian Air Force accepted the first of 16 new CC-295 search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft at the Airbus factory in Seville, Spain in mid-December. Presentation of the aircraft to the RCAF was delayed when the Department of National Defence (DND), the RCAF and Airbus disagreed over the contents of the aircraft manuals.

Although the aircraft was officially delivered, the DND continues to review the manuals to ensure that they meet the RCAF’s requirements.

Furthermore, it will remain in Spain until mid-year as RCAF crews familiarize, test and train on the turboprop. It is expected to be repositioned to CFB Comox on Vancouver Island this coming summer.

“The acceptance of the first aircraft is one of many steps in this complex program to replace the current fixed-wing search and rescue fleets,” DND spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in an email to CBC News. “We will continue to work with Airbus to ensure the acceptability of remaining work, including revision of technical manuals, completing training for the initial RCAF crews and conducting initial operational testing and evaluation in Spain in the first half of 2020.”

Sixteen CC-295 aircraft will replace all six existing Comox-based CC-115 de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft and some of the older CC-130H Lockheed Hercules aircraft that are used for SAR operations.

A 442 Squadron (Sqn) Search and Rescue CC-115 de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Buffalo flies over a heavily forested area of British Columbia. Photo by 9 Wing Imaging, Corporal Miranda Langguth

The project cost was announced in 2017 to be $2.4 billion, with an option to pay Airbus an additional $2.3 billion to support and maintain the aircraft for 15 years.

Top photo credit: Airbus