Justin Trudeau fell victim to Murphy’s Law: after his official plane was damaged in a hangar last month, the Prime Minister of Canada had to take a spare aircraft to attend the NATO summit that took place in the United Kingdom on December 2, 2019. However, upon landing in London, a defect in the replacement plane’s engine was detected. A third aircraft had to be ferried to carry the prime minister home.

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) waited until December 2, 2019, to reveal what happened to the official “Can Force One”. On October 19, 2019, the Airbus CC-150-01 Polaris that usually transport the Canadian Prime Minister was damaged during a towing operation on Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, house of the 437 Transport Squadron that operates the governmental fleet. 

The 30-year-old plane hit a towing tractor with an engine before ending its course nose-first against the wall of the hangar. It "suffered significant structural damage to the nose and right engine cowling," according to the air force’s spokesman Steve Neta. After Airbus inspectors assessed the damage, they concluded that the aircraft would not return to operations before August 2020. An investigation to identify the causes of the incident has been opened.

Credit: Royal Canadian Air Force

The CC-150-03, one of the country’s five, was used as a replacement plane to transport Trudeau to the NATO Summit. However, during a routine inspection, the RCAF discovered that some of the fan blades were damaged on one of the two engines, reports TVA Nouvelles. Consequently, it has been grounded for reparations until December 5, 2019. Fortunately, the Governor General of Canada Julie Payette was on an official visit to Italy at the same time. Her CC-150-02 was ferried to the United Kingdom in order to bring back Trudeau, his staff and the media, leaving Payette temporarily stranded in Italy.

The five CC-150s started their lives as regular Airbus A310 with the late Canadian carrier Wardair between 1987 and 1988. They were acquired by the Canadian government in 1994 and converted for official operations. The  CC-150-01 was turned into a VVIP transport (the “Taj Mahal”, as described by former prime minister Jean Chrétien). The next two are regular troop and cargo transporters. As for the fourth and fifth airframes, they were both converted into mid-air refueller, based on the A310MRTT. The Canadian government is reportedly studying a possible replacement for the aging fleet.

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