Airbus Military launches new C295 variant


Airbus Military has launched a new variant of its C295 light transport aircraft, the winglet-equipped C295W, which offers improved performance and better fuel economy.

Garcia Miranda, head of marketing and development at Airbus Military, told journalists in Seville, Spain, last week that the two new features of the model are the winglets and improved Pratt & Whitney engines for better overall performance, especially in hot and high conditions.

Each winglet adds 30 kg to the aircraft’s weight while structural changes in the wing add another 60 kg to the aircraft.

The winglets improve cruise and fuel consumption through a reduction in drag and increase in lift – the C295W features a 200 mile range increase over the baseline model as a result of changes, or a 30-60 minute increase in endurance. Winglets and upgraded engines will become a standard fit on the C295 from the fourth quarter of 2014 onwards.

Meanwhile, updated Pratt & Whitney PW127 engines add power in climb and cruise, improving all round performance, especially in hot and high conditions. The engine changes increase payload by 1 500 kg at 25 000 feet, raise maximum operational altitude from 24 000 to 26 000 feet and increase payload by 1 ton from hot and high airfields. The uprated engine option has been certified and is available separate to the C295W.

Airbus Military and Pratt & Whitney began studying C295 improvements in 2011, culminating in the C295W, which is being promoted from May 2013. C295W deliveries are expected to begin at the end of 2014 after certification has been completed – flight trials are scheduled for January 2014 while certification is planned for May next year.

C295W changes were tested on the company-owned C295 development model, which was recently used to demonstrate an airborne early warning configuration.
“The C295 has consistently been the market leader in all sectors in which it is offered. By investing in continuous development of the aircraft we are committed to maintaining its leadership through the introduction of substantial operating benefits. We very much look forward to discussing the C295W with existing and prospective customers,” said Airbus Military Head of Programmes, Light & Medium, and Derivatives, Rafael Tentor.

Meanwhile, Airbus Military is continually improving the C295, and successfully completed trials of the Marte anti-ship missile on the aircraft in April this year. The C295 gunship variant is progressing and Airbus Military will select a 27 mm or 30 mm cannon for the aircraft later this year.

Having a multipurpose aircraft is seen as key to attracting new orders in a time of austerity, with the C295 being promoted for maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare, signals intelligence, airborne early warning, general transport, medevac, humanitarian aid and other missions. Airbus pointed out that the need for humanitarian aid is increasing every year, with more than 62 000 people dying from natural disasters per year. Responding to these events requires major logistics support – for example, in 2011, nine organisations were involved in 52 relief operations with 262 000 personnel.

Last year Airbus Military sold three additional C295s to Egypt in a repeat order, two to Kazakhstan’s air force, eight to Oman (including four maritime patrol versions), five to Poland, nine to Indonesia and another one to Columbia, giving the company a 76% market share (the competing C-27J Spartan managed ten sales last year), Airbus said.

Between 2003 and 2012, Airbus Military sold 157 CN235 and C295 aircraft, which the company said gave it a 51% market share in the light and medium segment. Over the next decade, Airbus Military hopes to capture $4 billion of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)/maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) market with the CN235 and C295, and $6 billion of the airlifter market with the CN235 and C295.

Many of these new orders are expected to come from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Cameroon and Ghana have been singled out as good C295 prospects, especially as the latter will most likely order more and fly them on behalf of the United Nations. South Africa is also being targeted to meet the Air Force’s transport and maritime surveillance requirements – a C295 was demonstrated to the Air Force last year during an Africa tour.