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The USA isn’t the only country whose SAR (search and rescue) aircraft programs are having a hard go of it lately. De Havilland’s DHC-5 Buffalo and DHC-4 Caribou aircraft were uniquely well designed for short-field operations in difficult conditions. Media reports indicate that the C-27J may be the government’s choice under an ACAN bid, which essentially picks the desired aircraft and then invites other competitors to make an offer. That last set of performance statistics may prove especially appealing, given Canada’s vast distances.
Advantages in this SAR role would include size, speed, range and cruising time, C-130 class transport capabilities in an emergency, and full commonality with Canada’s new C-130J fleet. The Buffalo has excellent short takeoff capabilities, and excels at slow-speed, all-weather flying, which is why it performs SAR on Canada’s mountainous west coast. Its notional advantage over current contenders is the V-22’s ability to do more than perform identification and supply drops.
By the time that NRC examination would have been underway, it would have been abundantly clear that Alenia and the Italian government were prepared to use extreme measures. Creation of these new kits will be good news for Alenia’s chances in Canada, which already seems to tilt toward the C-27J. The CC-115 Buffalos on the west coast cost $20 million per year to maintain, and will need new engines if they’re flown past 2015. Byers and Webb allege that DND passed up an 2007 opportunity to buy Brazil’s retired fleet of Buffalo aircraft as a source of spare parts, and also dismissed an internal proposal to buy spare parts from Viking Air, which owns the rights to the design. Their most damning allegation, if true, is that DND still hasn’t re-written their FWSAR specifications, over 3 years after the competition was derailed because the specification had been written to allow only 1 contender. Maneuvering and teaming by industry, disinterest and slipshod work by government; An alternative FWSAR proposal.
The result would be a unified fleet of 27 C-130Js to serve in transport, tanker, SAR, and special forces roles, plus 10 lower-cost Q200s with conformal tanks to extend range.
The KC-390 is a twin-engine jet transport in the same performance class as the C-130J Hercules, and Embraer has built it into a trans-Atlantic, multinational project.
The Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs institute also chimes in and asks, reasonably, why would one bother recommending a competition when one’s mind is already made up? The competition is currently off-again, so there’s no live RFP, and no commitment yet by Boeing to bid. Even so, Defense News reports that some of their sources believe that even when FWSAR recommendations are made, the Canadian government will not move on it.
The move would have to survive Cabinet scrutiny, and the unstable state of Canada’s Parliament makes that far less likely. Giuseppe Giordo, President of Alenia North America in Washington, DC, notes that negotiations are ongoing and the first CC-130Js aren’t expected until 2009 at the earliest. Canada’s Conservative Party is a minority government, which means it can be brought down at any time via a vote of no-confidence by the other political parties. DID's daily email newsletter keeps you abreast of contract developments, pictures, and data, put in the context of their underlying political, business, and technical drivers. Due to its vast size and range of environments, the country relies on a diverse group of government, military, volunteer, academic and industry partners to provide overall SAR services to the Canadian public.
In addition to responding to SAR emergencies, the organizations also invest time and resources to help prevent incidents from occurring. The primary SAR responsibility of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is the provision of aeronautical SAR and the coordination of the aeronautical and maritime SAR system. The CAF have the primary responsibility for the provision of aeronautical SAR services (search for downed aircraft) whereas the CCG is responsible for maritime SAR services. The JRCCs are operated by a team of professional SAR experts from both the CAF and the CCG. Furthermore, SRR commanders can task additional CAF naval or air resources and CCG resources to respond to SAR missions within their regions. CAF SAR is involved in the coordination of roughly 10,000 aeronautical and maritime incidents annually, tasking military aircraft in over 1,000 cases.
The Canadian federal area of responsibility (AOR) is defined both under International Civil Aviation Organization agreements for aeronautical SAR and International Maritime Organisation agreements for maritime SAR.
The maritime SAR mandate includes the oceanic waters within this area, in addition to the St. The CAF have the capability to provide aeronautical and maritime SAR services into the farthest and most remote locations in our Arctic region.
GSAR in Canada is conducted under the legal authority of the individual provinces and territories. At the provincial level, the RCMP is the operational authority for GSAR in all Canadian provinces and territories except Ontario, Quebec, and parts of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The provinces and territories have appointed representatives to a working group to establish provincial and territorial GSAR standards of training and competency. Successful SAR operations rely on, among other factors, having the right capabilities at the right time. CAF SAR squadrons have been strategically located throughout the country, according to the historical distribution of distress incidents in order to provide the most effective SAR response to the greatest number of potential incidents. Current policy requires each SRR to have one of each type of aircraft on standby posture for an immediate response. The SRR Commanders have the discretion to increase the posture during times of heightened risk. The Royal Canadian Air Force Wings, based across Canada, provide military air resources in response to approximately 1,000 annual SAR taskings. The CAF CH-149 Cormorant and CH-146 Griffon helicopters are the primary rotary-wing aircraft used to respond to SAR. SAR fixed-wing aircraft, such as the CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules, offer dedicated SAR personnel and specialized equipment such as air-droppable survival kits, including life rafts and shelters.
Most other CAF aircraft, such as the CH-124 Sea King and the CP-140 Aurora, have a secondary SAR role. The Royal Canadian Navy maintains two ready-duty ships on standby – one on each of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
In addition to these assets, JRCCs may call upon any civilian assets in the area, when required. SAR Techs are land and sea survival experts who specialize in rescue techniques, including Arctic rescue, parachuting, diving, mountain-climbing and helicopter rescue. SAR Techs are present on every CAF primary SAR aircraft deployed on a SAR mission and they have saved thousands of lives nationwide.
The CAF sponsor and fund the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), a volunteer organization established in 1985 that augments the military’s capacity to respond to air incidents by making available private aircraft and trained volunteer crews for SAR missions.
The CCG also sponsors a volunteer organization, the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA), which provides vessels and crews which are fully capable of maritime rescue, to support CCG primary SAR resources.
In May 2011, Canada and the seven other Arctic Council member states (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) signed The Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic in Nuuk, Greenland.
In October 2011, CJOC coordinated an Arctic SAR Table Top Exercise in Whitehorse, Yukon, which brought international experts in SAR together to examine ways to enhance SAR response across the vast Arctic region. The Trenton Search and Rescue Region (SRR) is an area of more than 10 million square kilometres — the bulk of Canada's land mass, plus Hudson's Bay, James Bay, and the Canadian portions of the Great Lakes and the Arctic Ocean. The Joint Force Air Component Commander, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is also the commander of the Trenton SRR. The Trenton Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC Trenton), located at CFB Trenton, is the joint Canadian Armed Forces–Canadian Coast Guard centre for search-and-rescue (SAR) monitoring, alerting and emergency response in the Trenton SRR. JRCC Trenton is responsible for air and maritime SAR response under Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC).

435 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba, flying CC-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft. To augment the efforts of designated SAR units, any other unit of the Canadian Armed Forces or the Canadian Coast Guard that is available, suitable and capable can be tasked to any SAR mission, or to any incident requiring SAR-type response for humanitarian reasons.
Volunteer organizations such as the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Civil Air SAR Association (CASARA) are important contributors to SAR operations.
Commercial and private vessels and aircraft operating or in transit near the scene of an incident may also be asked to join the SAR effort. JRCC Trenton responds to about 3,500 SAR calls per year: about 70 percent of the responses are maritime, 20 percent air and 10 percent humanitarian.
When a SAR mission arises from an incident at sea or in the air, the Trenton SRR commander works through JRCC Trenton to task Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Coast Guard units and volunteer SAR organizations in the Trenton SRR to deliver the appropriate response.
When a SAR mission must be conducted on land or in the inland waters of the Trenton SRR, except in National Parks, which are federal lands administered by Parks Canada, primary responsibility lies with the government of the province or territory where the incident took place. With more than 29,000 kilometres of coastline, 80 percent of the Halifax SRR consists of water. JRCC Halifax is responsible for air and maritime SAR response under Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC). 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, flying CC-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft and CH-149 Cormorant helicopters. Canadian Coast Guard vessels cover the western and eastern portions of the Halifax SRR to provide the maritime SAR response capability.
Because the Halifax SRR extends east to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and south to the territorial waters of the United States, JRCC Halifax has developed excellent working relationships with SAR centres in Europe and the American Rescue Coordination Centres along the east coast of North America. When a SAR mission arises from an incident at sea or in the air, the Halifax SRR commander works through JRCC Halifax to task Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Coast Guard units and volunteer SAR organizations in the Halifax SRR to deliver the appropriate response. When a SAR mission must be conducted on land or in the inland waters of the Halifax SRR, except in National Parks, which are federal lands administered by Parks Canada, primary responsibility lies with the government of the province or territory where the incident took place, which delegates the authority to initiate SAR operations to the police service with jurisdiction.
Proposals for the procurement were due mid-January and do include the Airbus C-295, Alenia’s C-27J Spartan and Embraer’s latest offering, the KC-390. The first SAR aircraft was supposed to be delivered in 2006, with all deliveries complete by 2009. Its 9,976 km3 exceeds both China (9,596 km3) and the USA (9,363 km3), and its 3 ocean borders to the east, west and north expand its required coverage into large and hostile environments. The Buffalo program actually won an Us Army competition for a light STOL(Short Take-Off and Landing) airlifter, and its 1st flight was in 1961, but the production contract was never awarded because the USAF took over fixed wing operations and canceled it. That may expand to 5 or even 6 competitors once Canada releases its new RFP, but only if that RFP is a real competition. The US fleet of 21 C-27Js needs to find a home, but Alenia has said point-blank that it will not support that fleet if it’s sold abroad. To date, ACAN experience is that the requirements are explicitly written to exclude many competitive choices.
The tradeoff is a slow cruise speed of just 260 KTAS, which also has implications for long-range rescue attempts. Lockheed Martin attempted to submit a 3rd aircraft in the USA’s JCA competition, but their bid was denied. Its 4 engines create a tradeoff, however, as fuel economy and hence operating costs would suffer.
The Viking proposal would offer Canada the largest industrial benefit, with nearly 100% Canadian content for the buy, and additional potential for exports. The 6th option is quite recent, and surfaced with October 2011 reports that Bell Helicopter and Boeing were demonstrating their tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey in Canada.
Unlike other competitors, an MV-22 or CV-22 derivative can pick up rescuees immediately, removing the risks and expense involved in sending additional helicopters or ground forces.
The Canadian Press discovers that Canada did give serious consideration to buying the USA’s Joint Combat Aircraft fleet of 21 C-27Js, but it fell through. Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi picks Esterline CMC Electronics (CMC) in Montreal, PQ to provide the flight management system (FMS) for its worldwide C-27J Spartan fleet, and for Team Spartan’s FWSAR offering. The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act is signed into law, locking in the transfer of the USAF’s 14 remaining C-27Js to the Coast Guard.
Alenia improves their odds of winning by having the USCG use their solution as a lead customer, giving them parity with the fully integrated C295 MPA. The Auditor General of Canada’s 2013 Spring Report includes a section covering Canadian Search and Rescue. In 2011, Buffalo airplanes were unavailable for SAR on 119 occasions, and in 5 of these cases there were no SAR replacement airplanes.
A proposal to re-engine the Buffalos to allow service until 2015 was also reportedly rejected. Discovery Air in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to become Airbus Military’s primary Canadian partner, and provide training and in-service support if the C295 is picked for the FWSAR program. The Ottawa Citizen reports that the government will not consider public-private partnerships for its SAR requirements, along the lines of programs in Australia and Britain. Co-incidentally, a separate article by the authors of that report recommends picking only those 2 planes. CDFAI also cites, and sources, the Canadian Forces’ unstated requirement that the planes should double as tactical transport aircraft. It says that the Treasury Board approved a budget in March 2012, but approval isn’t due until the fall of 2013, and even if this contract actually keeps its schedule, no order will be placed until spring 2014. Alenia Aermacchi CEO Giuseppi Giordo gives an interview at Singapore’s air show, which throws a major wrench in American plans to re-sell the C-27J fleet. Preliminary FY 2013 budget materials discuss coming shifts in Pentagon priorities, as the US defense department moves to make future cuts.
Reports surface that Bell Helicopter and Boeing have demonstrated their V-22 to the Canadian Forces, as a possible solution to that country’s long-running on-again, off-again domestic search and rescue aircraft competition. In addition, the government has asked the National Research Council in Ottawa, to examine the military’s search-and-rescue needs and how such capabilities could be improved. Relief from incoming C-130Js, and statements that the Buffalo fleet could last until 2015, are likely to remove any sense of urgency. The audio-visual presentation that was to outline details of the program did not work and the microphones for the main speakers and audience members failed. Viking Air CEO David Curtis issues an open letter, offering to refurbish existing Buffalo aircraft and re-start production in order to fill the government’s SAR needs. Reports begin to surface that the Canadian DND plans to issue an Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN) for the SAR requirement, specifying Alenia’s C-27J as its preferred type. Aero News reports that the Canadian SAR competition has now been pushed forward 4 years, and quotes Canadian Air Force spokesman Capt.
The deferral of this purchase is likely to prove contentious in many regions of Canada, which is the world’s second largest country and has large remote areas that are thinly-populated but important to its economy. There is a distinct organizational difference between the responsibility for ground SAR (GSAR) and that of aeronautical and maritime SAR. The Canadian Rangers, Reserve Force members of the CAF, regularly aid in GSAR upon request in sparsely settled regions of the country. It is responsible for the development and coordination of overall SAR policy in consultation with SAR partners, as well as supporting and promoting the activities of the NSP as a means to achieve highly effective and economically responsible SAR programs throughout Canada.
The CAF is responsible for the effective operation of this coordinated aeronautical and maritime SAR system. They have access to and can task dedicated military SAR aircraft, CCG vessels and crews to respond to an emergency in their region. SAR coordinators may call upon any asset having a capacity to assist in any given situation and will use any resource at their disposal to render assistance to those in need as quickly as possible.

Historically, these actions have provided assistance to more than 20,000 persons and regularly help save approximately 1,200 Canadian lives each year. The CCG is capable of providing SAR services to the Arctic on a seasonal basis through the deployment of icebreakers and some science vessels. This authority is delegated for operational response to the jurisdictional police services. These capabilities include the right equipment, highly-skilled personnel, a response posture, appropriate location of SAR resources and procedures. Eight high readiness CAF air SAR resources (four helicopters and four fixed-wing aircraft) are located in proximity to historically high concentrations of incidents in order to respond to the greatest number of cases in the least amount of time. They offer swift response times, powerful hover and hoist capabilities, and dedicated SAR personnel.
Other naval ships, particularly those at sea and in the vicinity of a maritime incident, can be tasked by the SRR Commander as necessary.
SAR Techs are highly trained specialists who provide advanced pre-hospital medical care and rescue for aviators, mariners and others in distress in remote or hard-to-reach areas. Annually, CCGA crews and vessels respond to 27 per cent of all maritime SAR incidents in Canada. Commonly known as the Arctic SAR Agreement, it builds upon previous United Nations and other agreements addressing SAR to strengthen cooperation between the Arctic states and to improve the way the Arctic Council members respond to emergencies in the Arctic.
Canada hosted this exercise as a demonstration of the Government of Canada and the CAF’s leadership and longstanding commitment to Arctic SAR. From south to north, it extends from the Canada–United States border to the North Pole.
The busiest time of the year for maritime responses is summer, the season of pleasure boating on the Great Lakes and the lesser waterways of the Trenton SRR.
The province or territory delegates the authority to initiate SAR operations to the police service with jurisdiction — the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in much of the Trenton SRR.
In most parts of the Halifax SRR, the police force with jurisdiction is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Part of the competition involved the potential providers suggesting how many of their aircraft would be required by the Royal Canadian Air Force to conduct their operations, rather than a specified number being supplied by the government. Unfortunately, the Conservative Harper government temporarily shelved the project when it came to power, and subsequent efforts to restart it have featured one poor performance after another. Each year, the JRCCs handle an average of 8,000 air and marine SAR cases, and Canadian Forces SAR aircraft conduct well over 1,000 missions per year. Canada bought them, and so did a number of 3rd world countries who found its bush-plane design heritage appealing. There is also no appeal process comparable to the US GAO, which can hold the government to fair application of set criteria and review procurement decisions. The aircraft’s lack of a rear ramp is probably its biggest obstacle to its acceptance in a full search and rescue role. While Airbus and Alenia have been courting the Canadian government for a number of years, the KC-390 is said to have an advantage in terms of speed and range, although it is not expected to enter into service until 2018.
CMC is already tapped to supply their its TacView Portable Mission Display and SureSight Enhanced Vision System sensor for Team Spartan in Canada.
It’s also better to have the USCG pay to integrate all of the required equipment, instead of adding that cost to a Canadian bid. The required recertification of their upgraded aircraft comes with a time-to-service delay that could be a killer. Maintenance is time-consuming and expensive, and 2 planes have received new wings to keep them flying.
Their failure to mention Public Works Canada’s role in defense procurement is odd, but their other factual assertions are pretty straightforward. The bad news for Embraer is that they’re seen as a major competitor by Canadian aerospace firms, and especially by Bombardier. An Arctic partner is one way to strengthen their bids credential’s, and the partners hope their duties will include setting up a search and rescue base in Yellowknife, instead of dispatching planes from places like Winnipeg, many flying hours south. Within Canada’s closed and opaque procurement process, the fact that a requirement is unstated is no barrier to having it determine the winner.
General Dynamics Canada will offer performance-based aircraft support, and Provincial Aerospace will handle the SAR conversions. The 1st new aircraft isn’t expected until 2017, and it will be 2018 before the new planes can really take over.
If more SAR assets are required to support a particular mission, Commander CJOC can task all available CAF resources from anywhere in Canada.
These men and women are trained to a Primary care Paramedic national standard with additional advanced skills.
Representatives from the international SAR community, federal, provincial, territorial, and regional government partners, volunteer organizations, and other SAR stakeholders attended the two-day exercise. Lockheed Martin’s lack of participation in the competition is said to have been in reaction to the saga revolving around Canada’s recent backing out of the F-35 program to launch a new procurement competition. The competitors have since expanded beyond the familiar duo of the Alenia C-27J Spartan with its speed advantage and C-130J compatibility, vs.
In 2008, for instance, Canadian Joint Rescue Coordination Centres (JRCC) handled 9,097 SAR cases across Canada. The DHC-5NG’s risks include development risks, and the risk of an aircraft type that could wind up being unique to Canada, with all of the attendant support and upgrade burdens. The flip side is its status as the most expensive option to buy and most expensive to operate, coupled with a readiness rate that remains below expectations.
The Hercules planes are also needed for transport operations, so they aren’t always available.
FWSAR’s rear ramp requirement caused Bombardier to bow out of the recent Industry Day.
It could also open the door to a limited V-22 buy, if Canada wants to have those capabilities without compromising its entire fleet. During the event, delegations showcased their nation’s SAR capabilities and participated in focused discussions on Arctic SAR scenarios that would require international cooperation and resources.
It has a longer cabin that can carry more pallets of cargo or medical litters, or offer more crew room, reportedly offers better range, and has a cruising time of 12 hours.
The firm has recently enjoyed success with its revival of the legendary DHC-6 Twin Otter, and has offered to upgrade the existing CC-115 fleet, while producing new aircraft for the SAR program at its manufacturing facilities in Calgary and Victoria. FWSAR Plus: A Way Forward proposes that Canada buying 10 Bombardier Q200s in the same SAR configurations bought by foreign militaries, plus 10 dual-role HC-130Js to fulfill SAR and Special Forces roles. The political optics of shutting out Quebec’s flagship firm Bombardier, while giving the contract to their biggest competitor, make a KC-390 victory almost impossible to imagine. The release professes faith that a draft RFP will materialize in the fall of 2012, and that a winner will be picked in 2014.
Yet expanded options are no substitute for serving planes, and at least 1 victim has already died because the current fleet was unserviceable.
Built-in air-to-air refueling capability can extend even that mission time, to the limit of the crew’s endurance.

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