Fixed-wing search and rescue procurement project

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Project Summary

The Government of Canada is acquiring 16 CC-295 to take over the search and rescue duties currently being undertaken by CC-115 Buffalo aircraft and CC-130H Hercules aircraft.

The contract will provide a complete, modern and technologically advanced search and rescue solution, including maintenance and support services up to 2042. Airbus has also constructed a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox, British Columbia, where it will provide ongoing maintenance and support services.

The new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft will carry out critical, life-saving search and rescue missions across Canada’s vast and challenging territory, including the Arctic. The aircraft is expected to be even more reliable and available more often than our current fleets.

Using integrated sensors, crews will be able to locate persons or objects—such as downed aircraft—from more than 40 kilometres away, even in low-light conditions. This will contribute to improving the overall effectiveness of searches. It is anticipated that the on-scene search time will be reduced with the use of these enhanced sensor capabilities.

The aircraft will also use state-of-the-art communications systems that will allow search and rescue personnel to share real-time information with partners on the ground.

Throughout the transition to the CC295, aircraft from existing fleets will be maintained and operated to maintain search and rescue capabilities.

Project phases

FWSAR project is in Phase 4 – Implementation

1. Identification

1. Identification

  • November 2002
2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis

  • 2004
3. Definition

3. Definition

  • Project approval: March 26, 2015
  • Request for proposals (RFP) posted: March 31, 2015
  • RFP closed: January 11, 2016
  • Bid evaluation: January to June 2016
  • Bid evaluation complete: June 1, 2016
  • Aircraft trials: March 2016
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Project approval implementation: December 1, 2016
  • Contract award: December 1, 2016
  • First delivery in Spain: December 18, 2019
  • Initial operational capability: 2022 (currently under review)
  • Full operational capability: 2024
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • 2025

Learn more about the Defence procurement process.

Additional Information

Project Updates

Project Updates

November 16, 2021
The eighth aircraft was accepted by Canada in Spain.

July 16, 2021
The seventh aircraft was accepted by Canada in Spain.

May 7, 2021
The sixth aircraft was accepted by Canada in Spain.

February 11, 2021
The fifth aircraft was accepted by Canada in Spain.

December 9, 2020
The fourth aircraft was accepted by Canada in Spain.

October 29, 2020
Aircrew interim training started in Comox, British Columbia.

October 26, 2020
Maintainer initial cadre training started in Comox, British Columbia.

September 17, 2020
First CC-295 aircraft arrived to its home base in Comox, B.C.

July 31, 2020
Second and third aircraft were accepted by Canada in Spain.

February 4, 2020
Aircraft Maintenance Trainer arrived at 19 Wing Comox, B.C.

December 18, 2019
The first aircraft was accepted by Canada in Spain.

July 4, 2019
The first aircraft made its first flight in Spain, followed by start of flight testing in mid-July.

March 8, 2019
The first aircraft rolled off the production line and began contractor ground testing in Spain.

October 31, 2018
The in-service support critical design review was closed.

September 19, 2018
Final assembly of the first FWSAR aircraft began.

July 23, 2018
The aircraft critical design review was closed.

January 25, 2018
The Comox training center ground breaking ceremony was conducted.

December 4 2017
Construction began on the training facility in 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia

June 2017
Steel cutting was started on Canada’s Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue aircraft.

December 1, 2016
The contract was awarded to Airbus Defence and Space. One contract was awarded for the acquisition and the in-service support.

June 2016
The bid evaluation that followed the closure of the Request for Proposal (RFP) was completed.

March 2016
Bid evaluation was underway. Two qualified bidders remain. Aircraft testing took place at bidders' facilities.

January 11, 2016
The RFP was closed with three bidders submitting six proposals. Bid evaluation began.

March 31, 2015
The Request for Proposal was posted on

March 2012
Expenditure Authority was approved for the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Replacement project allowing the development of the RFP.

December 2011
The Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Replacement Project Management Office was re-established to acquire a new fleet of fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft.


Benefiting Canadian Industry

To reduce risks to both the Government of Canada and to bidders, the following industry engagement activities occurred between December 2011 and March 2015:

  • before the release of the final Request for Proposal, two industry days took place with over 200 participants each, seven multi-day one-on-one meetings with each industry team, and eight telephone/video conferences;
  • all RFP documents were released to industry for review and comment via 30 Letters of Interest and 176 formal responses were received;
  • site visits were conducted to the four existing Main Operating Bases and a tour of a Joint Rescue Coordination Centre took place;
  • a video showing a day in the life of a search and rescue technician to ensure industry fully understood requirements was produced and released.

The Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) policy was applied to the acquisition and in-service support contracts.

The total ITB obligation for the FWSAR acquisition is $1.9 billion. As of August 2020, $1.64B in progress, and $284.7M completed. Total ITB obligation for FWSAR in-service support is $578M, $443M in progress, and $135.6M completed.

Commitment to Canadian Industry:

The contract for the training facility in Comox, British Columbia was awarded to the Canadian company CAE via the prime contractor Airbus Defence & Space.

Technical Information

Technical Information

The CC-295 is a twin-engine, medium-range, multi-purpose transport aircraft manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space.

  • Length: 24.45 metres / 80 feet, 3 inches
  • Height: 8.60 metres / 28 feet, 3 inches
  • Wing Span: 26.70 metres / 90 feet, 7 inches
  • Wing Area: 60 square metres / 646 square feet
  • Power Plant: 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PW 127G turboprop engines
  • Engine Power (each): 1972 kW / 2645 shp
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight: 23,200 kilograms / 51,147 pounds
  • Cruise Speed: 452 kilometres per hour / 244 knots / 281 miles per hour
  • Service Ceiling: 7,620 metres / 25,000 feet
  • Range: 4,500 kilometres / 2,430 nautical miles / 2,796 miles
  • Crew Complement: 6
  • Passengers: 36 (troop transport configuration)
  • Quantity: 16
  • Location: Scheduled for:
    • 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia
    • 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba
    • 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario
    • 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia
  • Manufacturer: Airbus Defence and Space
  • Estimated life expectancy: 30 years

Note: These numbers may be subject to modification based on aircraft configuration.

Project Costs

Project Costs

Initial Contract

The initial contract was for $2.4 billion* and covered 11 years (to 2027). These costs included:

  • First six years of acquisition, transition and set-up
  • Following five years of in-service support

Extended in-service support

Following the first 11 years, the department had an option to extend in-service support for up to 15 years (to 2042). The government may exercise these options in increments of one to three years based on contract performance.

In October 2020 through a contract amendment, Canada exercised the first option year of in-service support, leaving 14 years remaining.

In total, the initial contract and the extended in-service support contract could total $4.7 billion*.

* These amounts do not include taxes.



COVID-19 has had an impact on all procurement projects in some form. Challenges may impact the project schedule or cost to varying degrees, as the full impacts continue to be assessed. We continue to monitor the situation closely and update the project page should any information change. In collaboration with our industry partners, we are continuing to work on mitigation measures where possible, while keeping our respective workforces safe.

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