Fixed-wing search and rescue procurement project

Project Summary

The Government of Canada is procuring 16 Airbus Defence and Space CC-295 aircraft from Airbus. These aircraft will take over the search and rescue duties currently being done by six CC-115 Buffalo aircraft and 12 CC-130 legacy 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 will be even more reliable and available more often than our current fleet.

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

  • March 2012
  • Project approval: March 26, 2015
  • Request for proposals (RFP) posted: March 31, 2015
  • RFP closed: January 11, 2016
  • Bid evaluation: January to June 2016
  • Aircraft testing: March 2016
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Project approval implementation: Fall 2016
  • Contract award: December 1st, 2016
  • First delivery: late 2019
  • Initial operational capability: 2020
  • Full operational capability: 2022
5. Close-out

5. Close-out



Additional Information:

Project Updates

Project Updates

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

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

December 1, 2016
The contract is awarded to Airbus Defence and Space.

June 2016
The bid evaluation that followed the closure of the Request for Proposal (RFP) is completed. Contract award is anticipated to take place in winter 2016/2017.

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

January 11, 2016
The RFP is closed with three bidders submitting proposals. Bid evaluation begins.

March 31, 2015
The RFP is posted on

March 2012
Expenditure Authority is 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 is re-established to acquire a new fleet of fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft.


Benefiting Canadian Industry

Benefiting Canadian Industry

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: 6
    • 2 pilots
    • 1 air combat systems officer
    • 1 flight engineer
    • 2 search and rescue technicians
  • 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
  • Developed from: Airtech (CASA / IPTN) CN-235
  • Manufacturer: Airbus Defence and Space

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*.

Full lifecycle costs

The full lifecycle cost of the FWSAR project is $14.7 billion*. This is not a contract, but rather an estimated cost that includes initial costs, extended in-service support, as well services such as:

  • flight crew personnel costs
  • maintenance personnel costs
  • training personnel costs
  • contracted support costs, including spare parts, engineering support and maintenance instructions
  • construction of new infrastructure (buildings) and modification of existing infrastructure
  • operating and maintenance of new and existing infrastructure
  • project management costs
  • tools and test equipment
  • personnel support cost, which include health services, military police, Canadian Forces Housing Agencies, etc.
  • fuel
  • aircraft disposal

The calculation of a full lifecycle cost covers the period from which the project started in 2012 up to 2052. Contingency to account for risk and uncertainty is also included in the estimate.

* These amounts do not include taxes.


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