Fixed-wing search and rescue procurement project

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Project Summary

The Government of Canada is procuring 16 CC-295 to take over the search and rescue duties currently being undertaken by six CC-115 Buffalo aircraft and 12 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 will also construct a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox, British Columbia, and 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. The existing fleets will be maintained and operated throughout the transition to maintain search and rescue capabilities.

FWSAR project is in Phase 4 – Implementation

Project phases

1. Identification

1. Identification

November 2002

2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis


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: December 2019 in Spain
  • Initial operational capability: 2020
  • Full operational capability: 2022
5. Close-out

5. Close-out



Learn more about the Defence procurement process.

Additional Information:

Project Updates

Project Updates

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

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 May 2019, the total ITB obligation for FWSAR acquisition is $1.9B, $1.75B in progress, and $169M completed. Total ITB obligation for FWSAR in-service support is $578M, $491.9M in progress, and $86.8M 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
  • Passengers: 36
  • 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 is for $2.4 billion* and will cover 11 years (to 2027). These costs include:

  • 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 will have 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.

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

* These amounts do not include taxes.



There is risk to achieving the initial operational capability on schedule resulting from the complexities associated with transitioning to the new fleet while maintaining the current search and rescue posture.

Technical risks associated with a number of design, certification and training elements also have potential to impact project milestones.

These risks are being actively managed, and mitigation measures are being coordinated with key stakeholders including the RCAF, airworthiness authorities, and the contractor.

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