Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-150 Polaris VIP aircraft, known also as Can Force One, is grounded until at least next summer after the aircraft has suffered damage to its nose and right engine cowling during a towing accident.
According to the Canadian Armed Forces, the plane — used to transport the prime minister to international events — was being towed at the military airbase in a hangar at CFB Trenton, Ont. on Oct. 18, 2019, when it sustained “significant structural damage.”
Airbus and General Electric assessed the damages and determined that the jet could only be returned to the air in August 2020, Lt. Col. Steve Neta, director of Air Force Public Affairs, told CTVNews.ca in an email statement.
The crew was switching out tow tractors to move the massive plane into space not normally used to store the aircraft when it started moving forward on its own, despite chocks being in place and the parking bra being on.
“Attempts to stop the aircraft by the tow crew were unsuccessful,” the military said in its report from the investigator. The right engine struck one of the tow tractors and the nose hit the hangar structure, stopping it.
The investigation into the incident “will focus on materiel and human factors,” but there is no indication
how much the repairs to an already aging plane will cost.
However, the incident raises questions about the aging fleet of the Royal Canadian Air Force and whether trying to fix the more than 30-year-old planes is worth it.
The CC-150 Polaris is a multi-purpose, twin-engine, long-range jet aircraft. It can be used for passenger, freight or medical transport and air-to-air refueling. The Polaris can reach a speed of up to 1029 km/h car a load of up to 32,000 kilograms. It can carry up to 194 passengers, depending on the particular aircraft tail number and configuration.
The Canadian Forces operate five of the aircraft — a CC-150 Polaris. Two of them, however, are outfitted for air-to-air refueling, meaning there are effectively just three — now two — available for the combined functions of transporting the Governor-General, the prime minister, the highest-ranking dignitaries, and the Royal Family.
The aircraft damaged in the collision was the only one outfitted with a cabin suite on board and painted with the Government of Canada logo.
The non-refueling aircraft are also used for troop transport and have been used to fly Canadian troops into central and eastern Europe as part of the NATO mission to deter Russian aggression in the region.