British Columbia

Comox, B.C., first in line for new search-and-rescue planes

Maintenance company says 150 new jobs coming to service new Airbus C-295 FWSAR planes across the country.

PAL Aerospace wins contract to maintain new search-and-rescue aircraft

The Airbus C-295 transport plane was announced last week as the replacement for the RCAF's C-115 Buffalo and Hercules fixed-wing search-and-rescue planes. (Airbus)

A Newfoundland-based aerospace company executive says Comox, B.C., is first in line for new Airbus C-295 search-and-rescue aircraft, and more jobs are coming with them.

"The first planes to roll off the line and be delivered will be 36 months after contract award, and the first ones will be going to Comox," Michael Sangster, chief commercial officer for PAL Aerospace, told On the Island host Gregor Craigie.

PAL Aerospace partnered with Airbus on the successful bid to replace Canada's aging DeHavilland Buffalo and Hercules fixed-wing search-and-rescue planes.

PAL Aerospace will manage maintenance and upgrading for the 16 new Airbus C-295s. Sangster said three or four of the new Airbus planes will be stationed at 19 Wing Comox.

Sangster said PAL Aerospace will bring more jobs to the community.  "For us, we're going to be hiring, at a minimum, about 150 new people across Canada," he said.

The Airbus C-295 will replace the CC-115 DeHavilland Buffalo aircraft, which are nearly 50 years old, at 19 Wing Comox. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

PAL Aerospace won't be the only company hiring, he said. "You'll see our partners like Pratt and Whitney, CAE and Airbus also hiring people in Canada and delivering economic benefits.

"These aircraft are going to run for 25 years if the contract runs its length, and there's a lot of upgrade and maintenance work that needs to be done," Sangster said.

Comox mayor Paul Ives said the simulator and training centre, also announced for the Vancouver Island air base last week, will bring about 30 new long-term jobs, plus construction work.

​The new fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft will also be  stationed in Winnipeg, Trenton, Ontario and Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

With files from CBC Radio One On the Island

To hear the full interview with Michael Sangster go to Comox B.C. first in line for new search-and-rescue planes.