Mali preparing for delivery of C295W


Mali will soon receive its first C295W transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space, as the aircraft is currently undergoing pre-delivery test flights.

It was spotted on a pre-delivery flight at Seville-San Pablo Airport in Spain on 6 September before service entry with the Transport Squadron based at Base Aerienne 101 Bamako-Senou. Airbus announced the order for the single winglet-equipped C295W in February this year.

The C295W is now the standard production version. It was unveiled in 2013 with the aim of improving performance and fuel economy, 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.

Meanwhile, updated Pratt & Whitney PW127 engines add power in climb and cruise, improving all round performance. 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.

Mali’s C295 will not be the first to fly in the country – since September 2014, Ghana has been flying its C295s in Mali in support of the United Nations mission (Minusma) there and last year ordered a third C295 from Airbus. Regarding Africa, at the moment Algeria has six C295s in service, and Egypt has ordered 24. Airbus is currently still manufacturing C295s for Egypt.

The C295W will join Mali’s small fleet of fixed-wing aircraft, which includes nine Mikoyan MiG-21s (although most of these are believed to be unserviceable), one Alenia SF-260, one Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander, two Basler BT-67s and several An-2s, An-24s and An-26s.

In June last year Mali ordered six A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training turboprops from Embraer. The aircraft will deployed for advanced training, border surveillance, and internal security missions, giving a major boost to the Mali Air Force’s combat fleet, which includes the MiG-21s and several Mi-24 attack helicopters.