Canada retires final Buffalo

After 55 years of service, the de Havilland Canada CC-115 Buffalo has been retired from Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) service. The final operational flight toom place on January 15 by 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron based out of 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia.

The final operational flight involved airborne search and rescue standby training, conducting a flight within Search and Rescue Region Victoria, ready to divert to an emergency at a moment’s notice from Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria. Training included Search and Rescue Technician parachute jumps and parachuting of emergency equipment as the aircraft visited locations around Vancouver Island.

RCAF Buffalo
Royal Canadian Air Force CC-115 Buffalo 115457. This aircraft is now preserved in the Comox Air Force Museum. RCAF

While work continues to prepare the CC-295 Kingfisher aircraft for its new role as Canada’s fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, interim search and rescue coverage for the Search and Rescue Region Victoria will be provided by the CC-130H Hercules fleet. Aircraft from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron will augment 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron to ensure consistent fixed wing search and rescue coverage.

Procured between June 1967 and December 1968, the 15 RCAF CC-115 Buffalo aircraft provided medium tactical transportation and search and rescue services. The CC-115 entered service in 1967 and has been flown by the RCAF for 55 years. The CC-115 initially served in the RCAF as multi-purpose transport and was flown on multiple United Nations missions overseas. In the 1970s it was converted to a dual role transport/search and rescue aircraft, before being exclusively flown in Canada as a fixed wing search and rescue aircraft. It has been flown by 429, 413, 424, 440 and 442 Squadrons in the RCAF. 

The Department of National Defence will retain three CC-115s as historical artefacts to fulfil the departmental obligations towards history and heritage. The remaining aircraft have been or will be transferred to museums or used as training aids. The Government of Canada is acquiring a fleet of 16 CC-295 Kingfishers to replace both the CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules in the fixed-wing search and rescue role.