Canadian Forces FWSAR Project – Industry Response – December
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 , 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.
 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
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
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
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
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
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.
President & CEO
Image credits: Jean-Pierre Bonin, DND, P&WC, Derek Kennedy, & Viking Air Ltd.