The first RCAF C295 search and rescue aircraft is on Canadian soil but it won’t be looking for lost hikers or missing aircraft. The plane landed at CFB Comox on Feb. 5 but it doesn’t have any of the gear that searchers need to do their work. The aircraft is a maintenance training model and its fate is to be repeatedly disassembled and reassembled for years to come, starting shortly. The first operational C295 won’t arrive for several months.
“This aircraft is to be disassembled upon arrival, and be partly reassembled inside the new Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) training centre,” Department of National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier told Esprit de Corps. “It will be used to train maintenance technicians on rigging, removal and reinstallation procedures.” The aircraft, flown by an Airbus crew, left the factory in Seville, Spain on Jan. 27 and stopped at the RCAF bases that will operate it at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Trenton, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba before heading to Comox, where the maintenance and training headquarters will be located. As far as the RCAF is concerned, it’s not even an airplane. It will be officially listed as a “training asset.”