British Columbia

19 Wing Comox lands Search and Rescue training centre

Communities in the Comox Valley are celebrating plans to build a new training centre for Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue pilots in Comox, B.C.

Announcement expected to bring jobs, economic development to Comox Valley

The Airbus C-295 transport plane has been chosen to replace the RCAF's nearly 50-year-old C-115 Buffalo fixed-wing search-and-rescue plane. (Airbus)

Communities in the Comox Valley are celebrating plans to build a new training centre for Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue pilots in Comox, B.C.

Plans for a simulator and training centre at 19 Wing Comox were part of a federal announcement about the purchase of new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft on Thursday.

"We are advised that this training centre will be a significant infrastructure investment in the community, in the town of Comox and at the airbase," said Comox Mayor Paul Ives.

Ives says the air base is a key employer in the Comox Valley — providing roughly 2,000 jobs. He says about 30 more long-term positions are expected to come with the new training centre, along with construction jobs.

The federal government is buying 16 new Airbus search and rescue planes to replace the current fleet of Buffalo and Hercules aircraft.

'Only makes sense'

They will be stationed in Comox, Winnipeg, Trenton, Ontario and Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

But Ives says it makes sense to offer pilot training for the new planes in Comox.

"We train the search and rescue technicians, the guys and girls who jump out of the planes," he said. "So, it only makes sense that it will all be done here."

The Comox Valley Economic Development Society spent several years campaigning for the training facility and even brought together senior ranking retired air force personnel to help with the lobby effort.

The federal government says construction for the new training centre will start in 2018. Pilots are expected to start training in Comox by 2020.

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