Airbus has been qualified by the Government of Canada as a bidder for the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC) project, a procurement process launched to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Airbus A310MRTT (CC-150 Polaris) multirole tanker fleet.
Multi-Role Tanker Transport
The invitation to qualify (ITQ), released at the beginning of 2021, has identified Airbus’ A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft as capable of meeting the project’s requirements which now moves to the next stage of the call for tender. A draft request for proposal (RFP) is expected in Q3 2021.
The STTC program looks to replace the RCAF CC-150 Polaris tanker fleet with a multirole aircraft capable of conducting a wide range of missions including NATO and NORAD operations, ranging from air-to-air refueling to strategic G overnment of Canada transport and aeromedical evacuation.
Simon Jacques, President of Airbus Defence and Space Canada, said: “The A330 MRTT is the only new generation, combat-proven, multirole tanker available. It is certified to operate with the majority of western receivers, including Canada’s current fighters, transport and mission aircraft. With more than 250,000 flight hours in service with 13 nations, including key NATO allies and Five Eyes partners such as Australia and the United Kingdom.”
Airbus Sustaining Employment in Canada
Active in several Canadian provinces, Airbus has approximately 3,800 employees across the country and sustains more than 23,000 indirect jobs in the aeronautics sector. Airbus works with over 665 suppliers in nine provinces, sourcing $1.8 billion CAD from Canadian companies.
All Airbus divisions are present in Canada with commercial aircraft in Mirabel, QC, helicopters in Fort Erie, ON and Defense and Space in Ottawa, ON. Airbus 100% owned subsidiaries, Stelia Aerospace and NAVBLUE also have installations in the country.
In addition Air Pro, a joint-venture between Airbus and PAL Aerospace, located in Ottawa, ON, provides in-service support to the FWSAR programme in Canada (Airbus C295 aircraft to RCAF).
Meanwhile, Airbus is working to repurpose an area of the former Bombardier Mirabel factory that was left fallow after the Canadian planemaker ended CRJ production. The 100,000 square feet will become a pre-assembly plant for the A220 line of aircraft, feeding partially completed fuselages to both Mirabel and Mobile, Alabama, simpleflying reported. The facility is due to come into operation in 2022.
The report said that despite all the challenges facing the aviation industry right now, Airbus is showing plenty of confidence in its Mirabel production plant. The facility, which produces the A220 range of aircraft, is receiving a ‘substantial investment,’ as Airbus looks to reclaim the space that Bombardier left behind.
The former manufacturer of what was then called the CSeries vacated the entire plant when it exited the commercial aviation business. An area formerly used for assembling the CRJ line of regional jets has been vacant since the program ended. Bombardier left with all its equipment, leaving behind a vast 100,000 square feet of factory space.
Now, Airbus is taking over this part of the plant, and fitting it out to pre-assemble the A220 range of aircraft. Florent Massou, head of the A220 program at Airbus, told le Journal de Montreal that a ‘substantial investment’ would be made to equip the space, without indicating what level of financing would be applied by Airbus.
The move is the next step on the road to increasing the production speed of the A220. Currently, Airbus turns out the aircraft at a rate of around three to four a month. In the long term, it wants to increase this to as many as 14 a month, for a goal of 168 aircraft a year spread across both the US and the Canadian plants.
In other A220 news, the FAA has today proposed inspections on the wing-to-body faring components of constructed aircraft. A proposed Airworthiness Directive, which follows a similar directive issued by Transport Canada last October, will require airlines to inspect the aircraft and undertake repairs as required.