Canada’s new VIP federal government jet, an Airbus A-330-200, has been officially introduced, set to transport high-profile figures including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Governor General, and King Charles on his inaugural visit as sovereign.
Inside the New Airbus A-330-200
Purchased from Kuwait Airways last year, the eight-year-old aircraft, dubbed Airbus 02, marks a significant upgrade from its predecessor, Airbus 01, a smaller Airbus A-310 built in 1987 for the defunct Canadian airline Wardair.
Fleet Expansion and Upgrade
According to CBC News, Canada has acquired five A-330s from Kuwait Airways at approximately $50 million US each, a cost notably lower than new models. Airbus 02, the first to be delivered, is part of a broader strategy to enhance the nation’s air capabilities. A second A-330 is expected this winter, with three additional jets to follow, primarily for military transport and in-flight refueling of RCAF and NATO aircraft.
Further expanding its fleet, the government has commissioned Airbus’s military division to construct four new jets for transporting Canadian Armed Forces personnel and for mid-air refueling.
New Home Bases and Enhanced Capabilities
Traditionally based in Trenton, Ontario, the new fleet will be stationed at two locations, one in the east and one in the west, though the specific sites are yet to be announced by the Department of National Defence. These larger A-330s will necessitate new hangars, accommodating their substantial size.
Improving upon its range and safety, the new jets boast a 4,000-kilometer longer range than their predecessors, enabling non-stop flights from Ottawa to Tokyo. Additionally, the entire A-330 fleet will be outfitted with a self-protection system to shield against missile attacks.
Interior Features and Passenger Amenities
During an early Wednesday inspection before its maiden official flight with Prime Minister Trudeau to the APEC summit in San Francisco, reporters found the jet’s layout unchanged from its tenure with Kuwait Airways. However, plans to install a VIP cabin are underway.
Notable features include an accessible washroom, providing convenience for passengers in business attire and security staff. Despite these upgrades, the aisles are reported to be too narrow for standard wheelchairs, with a compact model available for on-board use.
Addressing In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity
While the plane’s entertainment system and wi-fi are currently non-operational, it is anticipated that these services will soon be available, especially for senior government officials.
Moving Beyond Airbus 01
The retiring Airbus 01 has become increasingly challenging to maintain due to the scarcity of parts. This was highlighted when a maintenance issue in Delhi delayed Prime Minister Trudeau for two days following the G20 Summit.
Global Precedence and Safety Record
The Airbus A-330, a model also utilized by Air Canada and Air Transat, is a popular choice among world leaders, including those of France, the U.K., and Australia. Its safety record includes a notable incident in 2001 when an Air Transat A-330 successfully glided to a landing in the Azores after a fuel issue.