The True North Strong and Free - New Look for the RCAF’s CC-150 Polaris Aircraft 15001

Fact Sheet / November 25, 2013 / Project number: FS 13.002

CC-150 Polaris (Airbus A-310)

As part of regularly scheduled maintenance, the Canadian Armed Forces has repainted the aircraft primarily used to transport members of the Royal Family, the Governor General, the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries.  Given this aircraft’s special role on the world stage as a symbol of Canada, the requirement to repaint the aircraft presented an opportunity for a paint scheme that better reflects our country.

This new design includes Canadian symbols like our National Flag, Canada’s Coat of Arms, and the Royal Canadian Air Force logo. The colour scheme and design is more reflective of Canada’s national identity and consistent with aircraft used by allied countries in similar roles.

Details about the new design

  • The new design was developed by a graphic designer, a civilian team member of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
  • The aircraft is mainly arctic white, with an ocean blue underbelly, and a thin, maple leaf red, wavy line above the ocean blue.
  • The words, “Government of Canada” and “Gouvernement du Canada,” are printed above the passenger windows and separated by a small maple leaf.
  • Iconic phrases from our national anthem, “True North Strong and Free” and “Une épopée des plus brilliants exploits,” are printed in italicized script under the cockpit window.
  • A Canadian flag is on the front door.
  • Canada’s coat of arms and the Royal Canadian Air Force logo appear just behind the door.
  • The aircraft’s tail is painted arctic white, with a thick ocean blue line and thin maple red line, and displays a large Canadian flag and the aircraft’s military identifier number 15001.

Why now?

When Aircraft 15001 went into its regularly scheduled heavy maintenance period in February 2013, it was also due for its repainting, which is scheduled every six years.

Have the Department of National Defence’s transport aircraft ever been painted like this before?

Yes, the CC-137 Boeing 707 fleet, the predecessor of the CC-150 Polaris, was painted in a similar paint scheme.

Who did the work?

The CC-150 fleet’s existing maintenance support contractor, L-3 MAS, decided that the painting would take place at Dean Baldwin Aircraft Painting, LP, located in New Mexico. L-3 MAS selected this company after approaching Canadian suppliers, which were either unavailable or did not have the capability to paint aircraft as large as the CC-150 Polaris.

How much did this cost?

The repainting schedule for the CC-150 Polaris runs on a six-year rotation in accordance with the aircraft’s heavy maintenance schedule. In May 2013, Aircraft CC-15001 was repainted with a new colour scheme and design, as opposed to the overall grey paint scheme of the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces CC-150 fleet.

At $326K, (which includes the cost of the new design) the new paint job that was completed in May 2013 is slightly less expensive than what was paid ($330K) for the last full repaint (Grey) in Dec 2007.  As we have said before, we estimate that this is approximately $50,000 more than if it had been painted grey.

Will this have any operational impacts?

The redesign of the paint scheme on Aircraft 15001 will have no operational impact on the aircraft, and the Royal Canadian Air Force plans to continue employing the repainted aircraft as part of the overall CC-150 fleet.

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