Fixed-wing search and rescue training centre under construction

A ground breaking ceremony for the new fixed-wing search and rescue training centre located at 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia, was held on January 25, 2018. Participating in the ceremony were (from left), Warrant Officer Francois Duchesneau, SAR technician lead; Brigadier-General Sean Boyle, deputy commander of 1 Canadian Air Division; Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Mr. Boris Burot, representing Airbus; Lieutenant-Colonel Curtis Wright, acting wing commander of 19 Wing; and Chief Warrant Officer Keith Sexstone, acting wing chief warrant officer. PHOTO: Submitted

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A new centre is under construction at 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia, where Royal Canadian Air Force aircrew, search and rescue technicians, and maintenance personnel will be trained for the newly-acquired fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft – the C-295W. The first C-295W is scheduled to be delivered late next year.

The new training centre will include ten classrooms as well as sophisticated training devices such as a full-flight simulator, a cockpit procedure trainer, a sensor station simulator and an aircraft maintenance trainer. Simulation training improves efficiency, environmental impact and operations by reducing the need to use operational aircraft for training purposes.

“It is essential that our search and rescue crews have the right facilities in which to develop the skills they need to perform their duties safely and effectively,” said Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, who toured the construction site on January 25, 2018. “The construction of this training centre represents another step forward in a key project, supporting our mission of being strong at home, ready to assist in times of natural disaster, to support search and rescue, and to respond to domestic emergencies.”

Given that the Canadian search and rescue environment is one of the most challenging and diverse in the world, ensuring that the RCAF has a modern fleet and trained aircrews to answer these calls is key to successful rescues.

“This . . . is not only about a building, but also about our people,” remarked Lieutenant-General Mike Hood, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “Together we are building the right search and rescue training environment to fully empower our airmen and airwomen to deliver on their critical mission for Canadians – saving lives.”

The initial contract was awarded to Airbus Defence and Space to procure new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft fleet of 16 C-295W to replace Canada’s fleets of Buffalo and (legacy) Hercules aircraft in the search and rescue role on December 1, 2016. The contract is for a period of 11 years and is valued at $2.4 billion (plus applicable taxes). It includes six years of acquisition, transition and set-up, construction of a new training centre, and the first five years of maintenance services. The contract also includes options to extend the maintenance and support services for an additional 15 years. Should Canada choose to exercise these additional options, the contract value would increase to $4.7 billion (plus applicable taxes).

The contract for the construction of the training centre was awarded to CAE by Airbus Defence and Space. Construction is expected to facilitate training for at least the next 20 years. The new training centre will conform to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver level, and integrate green building concepts and sustainability into the planning, and design of the building.

The Canadian Armed Forces has the primary responsibility of providing aeronautical search and rescue services and the Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for maritime search and rescue services. The Canadian Armed Forces is responsible for the effective operation of this coordinated aeronautical and maritime search and rescue services to the Canadian public.

During the transition to the new search and rescue aircraft, the existing RCAF fixed-wing SAR fleets will continue to be maintained and operated to ensure search and rescue responsibilities.

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