Complications created by the pandemic have slowed delivery of Canada’s new search and rescue aircraft. Shiny new C295s are lining up on the ramp at the Airbus factory in Seville, Spain but it will likely be the fall before they can be flown to Canada. Canada will receive 16 of the airplanes under the deal and deliveries were planned to begin this spring. Production slowdowns hit the factory when Spain, which had a major outbreak of COVID-19, went into a strict lockdown. It’s also been tough for Canadian military officials to go to Spain to inspect and test fly the aircraft.
The delays mean the RCAF will continue to use the six Buffalo and seven H-model C-130s now assigned to search and rescue duties until the new planes are ready. “We have the necessary flexibility to ensure continued and safe SAR coverage utilizing the existing capability, DND spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande told Global News. “Although there are still schedule risks given the uncertainty of the pandemic situation, Canadians can rest assured that the Royal Canadian Air Force will continue to provide uninterrupted search-and-rescue services until we transition to the new capability.”