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Canadian Forces FWSAR Project  –  Industry Response  –  December 2008

FWSAR CC-115  Buffalo — First Rebuilds, then New-Production?

David Curtis, President and CEO of Viking Air Ltd. (holder of  the type certicate for Buffalo aircraft), addresses  DND's  Fixed-Wing Search-and-Rescue project in light of  recent announcements that the Minister of  National Defence, Peter MacKay wants to forego a competitive procurement for  FWSAR  and  proceed directly  to an Advance Contract Award Notice for  seventeen of  the Italian- built Alenia C-27J aircraft. If the origins of the C-27J are examined, we see that this Italian aircraft was actually a contemporary of the DHC-5 Buffalo. This begs a question: Quite understandably, Italy supports its own aerospace industry with military orders [1],  so why doesn't Canada?

[Update also see DHC-5NG: New-Production Buffalo Compared with the Italian C-27J.]

David Curtis' letter on a new-production Buffalo is republished below with permission.

[1] The Italian AMI sold off its original fleet of G.222s (C-27As) to allow orders for the modernized C-27Js. (The US has bought refurbished G.222s for Afghanistan's air arm.)

Sidney, BC  -   23 December 2008

David Curtis,  President  and  CEO  of  Viking Air on the DHC-5 Buffalo  Aircraft

Recent reports suggest that the Canadian Government now intends to spend three billion dollars [$3B] for up to 17 new FWSAR  aircraft  to  replace its  aging  CC-115 Buffalo  fleet, which has long been utilized in search-and- rescue missions across  the country.  I am writing  on behalf of  Viking Air of Victoria, BC, which holds the [Buffalo] design and in-service support certificate, to remind the Canadian Government that there is an effective, economical, Canadian solution  for this replacement  issue:  a modernized  CC-115 Buffalo  variant.

Viking is prepared to work with the DND to develop a staged approach to upgrading and modernizing the current fleet, as well as investigate the potential of introducing newly manufactured Buffalos on a phased-in basis as follows:

•  upgrade existing  General Electric engines  [the CT64-410-3 model in the CF CC-115] to Canadian made PW150 turbines –  a  proven,  reliable, and fuel efficient engine manufactured [ in Montreal ] by Pratt & Whitney Canada  [ and in widespread service in Canada on Bombardier Q400 airliners ]

•  introduce a modern integrated avionics and technology enhancement package with Synthetic View, FLIR, and NVG capabilities similar to that currently being installed in the new Viking Series 400 Twin Otters  [ and representing a greater advance than the 'Buffalo Avionics Life Extension - Lite' cockpit upgrade program currently underway]

•  re-start production of a modernized Buffalo at our manufacturing facilities in Calgary and Victoria,  similar to the revitalized DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 program underway at Viking,  which leveraged the engineering, research and development on the original de Havilland airframe and marries it with the improvements offered by modern engines, systems and avionics  to create a commercial and  military  modern day  success story.

Viking Air  has already received  serious interest  from governmental agencies around the world and  is cognizant of  the growing demand  for the launch of  new production DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft.  By upgrading and  modernizing the [CC-115 Buffalo] fleet and incorporating new-build Buffalo aircraft,  manufactured and  supported in Canada, the cost savings over introduction of  a completely new [aircraft] type is huge.

The requirement to replace the present [SAR] fleet is not based on a lack of ability for the Buffalo to do the job, but simply due to the aging of the aircraft. By breathing new life into the program, the DND can continue to operate the best-suited aircraft, safely, reliably, and with a huge reduction in acquisition and direct operating costs [including aircrew / maintenance personnel training, airframe spares, etc.]. The Buffalo is the best suited aircraft for its purpose, as noted on the Canadian  National Defence website:

"The 'Buff ' is able to fly in almost any weather, and into places other aircraft are incap-
apable of reaching, making it ideal for the mountainous regions of British Columbia."

By continuing with the tradition of the [CF] Buffalo,  Canadian taxpayers will receive a proven, low-risk product with huge economic benefits and cost savings, thus allowing the DND to either acquire more aircraft for search and rescue or reallocate the funds to other projects within DND. [This is not] to mention the continuing benefits of keeping the program Canadian and  further diversifying  the Western Aerospace Industry.

We would welcome the chance to further discuss the merits of this proposal with you and we encourage you to speak to Defence Minister Peter MacKay regarding this issue.


David Curtis
President & CEO
Image credits: Jean-Pierre BoninDNDP&WCDerek Kennedy,  & Viking Air Ltd.

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