Tango Six portal had an exclusive opportunity to will be the first (not only aviation) media from Serbia to fly the newest Airbus in Serbia courtesy of the General Staff and the Air Force and Air Force of the Serbian Armed Forcesfirst delivered military transport aircraft Airbus C295MW.
We have joined what is formally called training flight for route flying and overflighttook off from the airport “Colonel-Pilot Milenko Pavlović” in Batajnica to the airport “Sergeant-Pilot Mihajlo Petrović” in Niš.
Tango Six received unprecedented and detailed one-day access to the operations of the 138th Airlift Squadron “Rode” which, as we previously reported, completed the conversion to an aircraft that was manufactured in Seville. At the end of the articles, you can also watch a longer video reportage in which we talked in more detail with our host, the commander of the 138th squadron, pilot-lieutenant colonel Goran Brkić.
Drugi C295MW will be delivered today around 5 pm.
Name and surname?
It is interesting that most civilians and military personnel involved in the procurement of the Airbus aircraft call it “Caza”, referring to the origins of the Airbus company in Spain CASA, which, among other things, produced the predecessors (together with Indonesia) of the designations C-212 and CN-235. This factory no longer exists under that name, so the only name of the manufacturer is “Airbus Defense and Space SAU”.
The aircraft designation is C295MW TS03, where the W indicates the version with winglets and the “TS03” the last modification with the new Collins “Fusion ProLine” avionics, which, according to Thales, is currently only used in this type by Ireland, Serbia and currently the largest customer, India. The first delivered aircraft has the Airbus serial number “220” and was manufactured in May of this year.
This type of aircraft will carry the official military designation T-75 in the Serbian Air Force and Air Force.
The first delivered aircraft was the registration number “29501”, the second will bear the number “29502”. It is interesting that the registration numbers of military aircraft in recent years are linked to the designation of the aircraft. So “295..” is related to C295, Airbus H145M helicopters start with the number “145…”, Russian Mi-35M with “351..”.
In addition to the appearance of the regional turbo-prop that forms the basis of the short-haul fleet of the domestic national airline, The C295 shares the same engine type with the ATR, “Pratt & Whitney 127”. Air Serbia uses the “M” version of this engine, while the C295 uses the military “G” version. This type, like the ATR, in case of failure of one of the engines, the other one automatically increases power by 10% and thus compensates for the loss.
As unit commander Brkić tells Tango Six, the C295 is a welcome addition to the squadron not only because of its obvious modernization compared to the (only operational) Antonov, but also because much more efficient than a Soviet-made aircraft:
– Compared to the An-26 aircraft, the C295 carries approximately 50% more payload, and consumes approximately 50% less fuel. As a result, less funds are needed for investment when using a new aircraft. Antonov is a good plane, but time is slowly treading on it, its spare parts are a separate topic.
The C295 is an operational aircraft on all continents, there is a strong company behind it, and I expect the support to be as it has been, without any problems. It’s much simpler to rely on such a large company that has great parts delivery capabilities. On the other hand, we have acquired a large stock of parts that, according to statistics, are the first to fail on the plane. Ground equipment that we need for aircraft maintenance and servicing was also purchased in the kit. – Brkić tells us.
Two Airbuses were purchased without active self-protection systems but as they tell us from the squadron, it was more important to buy wisely for a certain budget. To acquire parts, design training and purchase additional equipment on which the initial phase of the aircraft’s use will be based. The easiest, as they say, will be to buy a system for active self-protection in the future. Bearing in mind that its value can be up to 20% of the total value of the aircraft.
Commander Brkić is extremely satisfied with the way and speed with which his unit received the new type of aircraft. The transition from Russian to European technology was, according to him, almost routine:
– Regarding training, I think that we optimally performed the selection of pilots and technicians. We are covered by crews for the exploitation of both aircraft, and we also have the possibility of maintaining them up to the level of overhaul.
All members of the air force who were trained in Spain completed the training with a very high average, which was confirmed by the manufacturer and which proves the quality of our training system. They are very satisfied with our personnel, the training was successfully completed without a single incident, both during the training itself and during the stay in Spain, which lasted from February, when we sent the first people for training, until September. – Brkić tells us.
The operation of the aircraft is defined by aircraft maintenance. As for the engines, they are present on the wider civil and military market, which will mean availability when there is a need to replace or overhaul them (then usually the MRO that “does” your engine will send one of the same type to keep your plane flying smoothly).
– In addition to accessibility to the support network with which domestic civil aviation entities have experience, above all Air Serbia, we also have direct communication with the manufacturer “Pratt&Whitney”. We are not conditioned to go through Airbus when it comes to engine maintenance. The engine has a nominal annual flight plan, we will see in relation to how much we use the plane. I don’t expect any problems from that side. – the commander of the 138th squadron is optimistic.
When it comes to the equipment of the aircraft for transport, the RV and PVO took the basic configuration for transporting troops, landing paratroopers, as well as equipment for medical evacuation with 24 standard stretchers and equipment for patients. 50 seats per plane were taken for a fully passenger configuration as well as a VIP module consisting of 6 slightly more luxurious seats and two tables.
Airbus also applied simple installation modularity to the C295, which is based on the rails on which the above configurations are installed. As we were told, the VIP module, for example, can be installed in about an hour. The aircraft cabin is lower, but a person with an average height of 185 cm can comfortably stand upright.
Like the ATR, the C295 must pay attention to the “weight & balance” moment. This limitation compared to the more massive Antonov requires that care be taken as to how and at what pace soldiers enter the aircraft through the rear ramp so as not to compromise its balance.
“Swiss Army Knife”
The main feature of the C295 is the ability to perform a wide range of missions, he told Tango Six Fernando Ciria BailoHead of Marketing at Airbus Defense in charge of Tactical Transport and Special Mission Aircraft.
– You can complete a large number of missions with one type of aircraft. This means in practice that a small air force with sufficient numbers of C295s can do most of the tasks assigned to it.
We designed the plane as a very simple and robust machine at the same time. Operating costs are significantly reduced compared to other aircraft in the same class. The C295 is designed to be available 24/7 and capable of performing almost any military transport mission.
If we take for example the engine, “Pratt&Whitney 127G”, which is used on many other platforms and especially in civil passenger aviation, with it we get globally available logistic support, the engine itself is extremely reliable, its operability is extremely high, it does not require anyone special maintenance. The “as-is” maintenance system ensures maximum aircraft availability, with minimal maintenance breaks.
The entire aircraft is actually designed to make the work of the technical staff easier. Maintenance activities such as periodic inspections are much simpler compared to previous generations of aircraft. It should be emphasized that almost all air forces that ordered the C295 had an extremely simple transition to the new technique.
If we talk about countries that are comparable to Serbia in the context of using transport aircraft of older generations, for example, our clients Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan introduced the C295 as the first aircraft of Western origin into operational use. Those transitions were very easy for them, they were quick and without any problems. – emphasizes the representative of Airbus for our portal.
Continuing the excellent tradition of the Spanish CASA and their previous models, the C295 seems to have overtaken them in popularity.
It acquired the aircraft for its armed forces 36 countries, today 35 use them. Another country acquired them for the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Saudi Arabia 4 planes), and one military user also for the border guard (Kazakhstan two copies). A former user is Jordan who had two C295s. So far, a total of about 300 aircraft have been ordered, which fly on almost all continents.
In Africa, users are Algeria (5), Angola (3), Burkina Faso (1), Equatorial Guinea (2), Egypt (24), Gabon (1), Ghana (3), Mali (2), Ivory Coast (1 ), Senegal (2). In the Middle East, C295s are flying in the armies of Oman (8) and the UAE (5), and in the rest of Asia in Bangladesh (2), Brunei (1), the Philippines (7), India (the first of 56 ordered), Indonesia (11), Kazakhstan (8), Thailand (3), Uzbekistan (4), and Vietnam (3).
In North America, the big users are Canada (16 planes used for search and rescue), followed by Mexico (14), while at least one plane was observed in the USA. Four South American countries have C295: Brazil (15), Chile (3), Ecuador (3), and Colombia (6). In Europe, it is used by 7 countries, the first foreign user was Poland, which bought 17 examples (one crashed), Spain, in addition to the 14 existing ones, has an order for 16 more aircraft. Other beneficiaries are the Czech Republic (6), Finland (3), Ireland (2), Portugal (12), and Serbia (2).
Watch the video report we made during the flight with the 138th squadron and a more detailed presentation of the aircraft by Lt. Col. Brkic: