SEVILLE, Spain — Airbus Military is fitting winglets and uprated engines in a new variant of the C295 medium tactical transport aircraft.
The C295W — “W” for winglets — will become the baseline aircraft in late 2014, offering improved hot and high performance. It follows trials conducted on the C295AEW prototype earlier this year. The winglets were originally envisioned as a way to return performance lost in the drag from the AEW radar dome.
While the installation induced a weight penalty of 30 kg (70 lb.), trials have shown that the modified aircraft will benefit from a 3-6% reduction in fuel consumption. Following a study launched in conjunction with Pratt & Whitney in 2011, the aircraft has been given a number of new engine settings to provide improved climb and ceiling performance. The new power settings on their own have increased payload by 1,500 kg at 25,000 ft.
C295W marketing will begin late this month with certification flights beginning in early 2014. Certification with Spain’s INTA is due in May 2014, and first deliveries are expected in late 2014.
The program is one of several improvements envisioned for the C295. They include an onboard inert gas generation system (Obiggs), weapons capability in the form of a 27mm or 30mm cannon fitted into the rear paratroop door, and the ability to launch the Marte anti-ship missile from the aircraft’s maritime patrol variant. For the C295AEW variant, the changes increase endurance from 7.9 hr. to 8.8 hr., allowing additional time on station.
The upgrades come at a busy time for the C295 production line. It enjoyed its most successful year in 2012, with 32 aircraft sold, and Airbus Military hopes to capture more of the light and medium transport aircraft market. Poland has requested information on a maritime patroller (MPA) variant of the C295, similar to those operated by the Chilean air force. Oman has also ordered MPA C295s, and its first aircraft will be handed over at the Paris air show.
Officials also say the U.S. Coast Guard is eager to expand its fleet of HC-144 Ocean Sentry patrol aircraft based on the smaller C235. Airbus Military is studying the potential of adding similar performance modifications to that aircraft.
The company is also expanding its cooperation with PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) with final assembly of the C295 in Indonesia. Nine aircraft are currently contracted, with the first six to be built here. The rest, including future batches, will be assembled in-country. A new center in Bandung will deliver the next aircraft for the Indonesian air force.