Airbus Defense and Space has partnered with Provincial Aerospace Ltd. of Newfoundland in its bid for the Royal Canadian Airforce’s (RCAF) $3.1 billion fixed-wind search and rescue (FWSAR) contract.

Airbus submitted its bid Monday for the FWSAR program originally meant to replace the air force’s remaining fleet of six DeHavilland CC-115 Buffalos and relieve air force’s CC-130 Hercules fleet of its SAR duties.

The joint-venture, which was named AirPro SAR services, will provide support services for the C295W aircraft that Airbus is proposing as a replacement for the Buffalo and Hercules.

Pablo Molina, Head of Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft in Canada,
Pablo Molina, Head of Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft in Canada, speaks during the launch of AirPro SAR (Photo by DENIS DREVER PHOTOGRAPHY)

Both Airbus and Provincial Aerospace have successfully delivered in-service support (ISS) services around the and the C295W ISS model has a “proven track record” and is already used by more than 20 operators around the world, according to Antonio Rodriguez-Barberan, commercial senior vice-president for special projects at Airbus.

“If the Airbus Defence and Space offer is selected, AirPro will utilize this trusted ISS model and combine it with deep domestic experience to ensure the best and most cost effective solution for Canada throughout the entirety of this program,” he said. “AirPro brings together two world-class companies for the benefit of Canadian industry.”


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The two companies in the joint venture said the partnership will create jobs for Provincial Aerospace workers on the East Coast.

The skills and technology required to service Canadian C295W aircraft will reside in Canada with Canadians who will complete the work required over the lifetime of the FWSAR program, according to Brian Chafe, CEO Provincial Aerospace.

Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The division employs over 38,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €13 billion per year.

Airbus AirPro FWSAR panel
Keith Stoodley, Chief Development Officer, Provincial Aerospace; Antonio Rodriguez-Barberan, Senior Vice-President Commercial, Special Projects for Airbus Defence and Space, and Derek Scott Vice President of Program Development, Provincial Aerospace, take questions during the launch of AirPro SAR Services in Ottawa

Provincial Aerospace is a Canadian aerospace and defence company which focuses on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) solutions. The company has operations Canada, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

Contenders for the FWSAR program were expected to submit the formal bid Monday, January 11.

The Buffalos were purchased as far back as 1967. The plan to replace them began back in 2002 with a funding of $1.3 billion for 15 new aircraft. Since then the cost of the project has ballooned and provisions have changed. Now it is up for the companies bidding for the contract to submit the in their bids the number of aircraft they believe will be needed for Canada’s FWSAR operations.

The C295W is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Engines. It can carry a payload of 9,250 kg. The aircraft has a maximum speed of 576 km/h and a cruising speed of 480 km/h. It has a ferry range of 5,400 km and a service ceiling of 9,100m.

There has been no announced date for the delivery of the chosen aircraft. However, the evaluation period for the selection is expected to take up to six months after the closing of the request for proposal process (RFP).

Other companies believe to be bidding for the contract, include Alenia Aermacchi, which is proposing its C-27J Spartan; Embraer S.A., which is proposing its KC-390; and Lockheed Martin which is proposing the C-130 J.