The South African Air Force (SAAF) has to all intents and purposes lost a quarter of its medium transport capability following a hard landing by a CASA 212-300, which has been damaged beyond economical repair.
While not a major operator of the Spanish twin-engined transports, the SAAF’s 44 Squadron will continue using the remaining three for general transport, paratrooping and other duties. This is because of budget constraints that will in all probability minimise aircraft acquisition for a number of years to come.
The 212s, along with a now retired CASA/IPTN CN235, all came into the SAAF inventory following the advent of democracy. The aircraft were previously operated by the air wings of the then Bophuthatswana, Transkei and Venda. The CN235, now a static exhibit at the SAAF Museum, is number one of type.
The aircraft damaged in the Tempe hard landing earlier this month is believed to have suffered wing and engine damage and according to unofficial sources is category 5 (beyond economical repair). According to SAAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Maseko the investigation team has not yet released its preliminary report and it is too soon to speculate on the fate of the aircraft.
Apparently the aircraft experienced a technical malfunction, which resulted in the hard landing, but this cannot be confirmed at this stage.
Meanwhile, Airbus Military is moving its C212 production facility in Spain to Indonesia, after 40 years of continuous production of the aircraft, one of the Mediterranean country’s best known aerospace products. The new version of this durable transport, renamed NC212, will be produced jointly by PT Dirgantara Indonesia and Airbus, and assembled in Bandung.
The Airbus final assembly line (FAL) in Seville will concentrate on production of the C295 and CN235 in transport and mission specific configurations as well as increasing activity on the A400M assembly line.
Since its maiden flight in 1971, 477 C212s have been built for 92 different operators. There are currently 290 C212s in service in 40 countries worldwide. Indonesia (70), the United States (37) and Spain (26) have the single largest fleets.
The final C212 to come off the Seville production line has gone into service with the Vietnam Marine Police.