Royal Canadian Air Force conducts search and rescue exercise in Kelowna

More than 60 members of 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 19 Wing Comox, B.C., are in nearby Kelowna from March 18 to 22, taking part in an exercise designed to test their search and rescue response to an aviation incident.

“The national search and rescue system in Canada relies on responders at a variety of levels including the Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Coast Guard, police forces, and volunteer organizations such as Civil Air Search and Rescue Association,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “Exercising these partnerships in training scenarios ensures our search and rescue crews can continue to provide first-class lifesaving services to Canadians.”


Search and rescue crews are deployed to the Kelowna Airport to practise setting up field operations. Similar to a real-life situation, the search headquarters on the exercise is supported by volunteers and aircraft from the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association.

“While Canada has a robust search and rescue network that involves many government and volunteer agencies and organizations, preparedness and survivability are key components to any successful rescue,” said the Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, Q.C., Associate Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament for Delta – Richmond East. “Exercises like this strengthen those partnerships and networks, and remind us all of the importance of being prepared. For aircraft and watercraft owners, this means ensuring their vessels are in good repair and that they have the essential emergency beacons and survival gear on board to assist the search and rescue teams in their efforts.”

In addition to personnel based at the search headquarters, the exercise is employing aircraft including a CC-115 Buffalo search and rescue aircraft and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter to practise operating in the mountainous terrain of the B.C. interior. Members of the local Civil Air Search and Rescue Association organization are sharing their expertise and knowledge of the local area with members of 442 Squadron to assist with the exercise. In addition, Civil Air Search and Rescue Association members are also playing spotting roles using their own aircraft.

“The men and women of our Canadian Armed Forces play such a vital role in the region,” said the Honourable Ron Cannan, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country. “It is very encouraging to see the men and women of 442 Squadron partnering with the local Civil Air Search and Rescue Association organization to hone their skills in the B.C. interior.”


The primary means for response to aviation search and rescue incidents within the Victoria Search and Rescue Region is 442 Squadron. The Victoria Search and Rescue Region includes 920 000 square kilometres of mainly mountainous terrain in Yukon and British Columbia, and extends approximately 600 nautical miles offshore into the Pacific.

Last year, Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue crews across the country responded to more than 1,000 aircraft and marine incidents in waters and lands under federal jurisdiction. The Canadian Armed Forces are also often called upon to assist the province, territories and municipalities with land and inland water rescues under their responsibility and jurisdiction.

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