* The CASA company, now part of the European Aerospace & Defense Systems group, has made an international success of the company's series of twin-turboprop cargolifter aircraft, beginning with the "C-212", then the larger "CN-235" -- built in the "Airtech" collaboration with IPTN/IEA of Indonesia -- and then its stretched derivative, the "C-295". These machines have proven adaptable to a range of other roles, such as electronic warfare and maritime patrol. This document provides a history and description of the C-212, CN-235, and C-295.
* In the late 1960s, the Spanish military was in need of a modern light cargolifter to replace elderly Douglas C-47 and Junkers Ju-52 piston-powered machines. In response, Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (CASA), Spain's principal aircraft manufacturer, conducted design studies for a new cargolifter, which emerged as the "CASA C-212 Aviocar", the prototype performing its initial flight on 26 March 1971. Manufacture of the initial production variant, the "C-212 Series 100", originally the "C-212-5", began in 1972, with initial service deliveries in the spring of 1974.
As it emerged, the C-212 Series 100 was a tidy, boxy machine with a high wing, conventional tail arrangement, and a turboprop engine on each wing -- a Garrett TPE331-5 providing 535 kW (715 SHP) and driving a Hartzell propeller. The prototypes and most of the preproduction machines featured three-bladed props, but production machines were fitted with four-bladed props. There were twin fuel tanks in each outer wing section, total fuel capacity being 1,900 liters (500 US gallons). Internal ferry tanks were also introduced for the C-212, though it is unclear if they were available early on. The wing featured large-area double slotted flaps for better short takeoff & landing (STOL) performance. Flight surfaces featured pneumatic deicing boots, while the props and windshield were electrically deiced. The Aviocar had, somewhat unusually for the era, fixed tricycle landing gear, all gear assemblies with single wheels and the main gear fitted on sponsons.
There were two aircrew, with an aircrew door behind the cockpit on the left. There was a passenger door on the rear of the fuselage, also on the left, with emergency exits matching both doors on the right. There was a two-piece tail loading door -- the bottom half hinging down to the ground, with a small wheel on each corner for support, while the top half hinged up to the ceiling of the cargo bay. In paratroop configuration, the C-212 could carry 15 paratroops and a jump instructor, with the tail door used for jumps. Other loads included 12 casualty litters plus up to four medical attendants, or up to 2 tonnes (2.2 tons) of cargo, using a floor roller system for cargo handling and a cargo net for restraint.
A "C-212C" civil transport variant was built as well, with seating for 19 passengers in a three-across seating configuration. There was a bulkhead in the rear separating the passenger compartment from the tail doors, with the tail doors permitting access to a baggage compartment. Being unpressurized, the C-212 was really only suited to short-haul operations. The C-212 Series 100 was also built under license by Industrie Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (IPTN) of Indonesia, now Indonesian Aerospace (IAE).
* A "C-212 Series 200" -- originally "C-212-10" -- variant was introduced in 1978, featuring the more powerful TPE331-10-501C engine, airframe reinforcements, and higher takeoff weights. Some sources claim there was a fuselage stretch as well, but that doesn't appear to have been the case.
The Series 200 was followed in 1984 by the "C-212 Series 300", which featured still more powerful TPE331-10R-512C engines; 4-bladed metal Dowty Rotol propellers instead of the 4-bladed Hartzell propellers; winglets; and a stretched nose with a baggage compartment. Paratroop capacity was raised to 24 and a jumpmaster, while cargo load was increased to 2,700 kilograms (5,950 pounds).
It could also be fitted with a "wet" stores pylon under each wing to carry external stores, generally a fuel tank with a capacity of 500 liters (132 US gallons); it is unclear if the Series 100 or Series 200 could carry external tanks, but it is hard to find any imagery of them with such kit. A stores attachment could be fitted on each side of the Series 300's fuselage for carriage of torpedoes, small antiship missiles, or gun / rocket pods, but it is unusual to find images of C-212s with the stores racks, and more unusual to find images of them carrying stores. Maximum load on each stores attachment was 250 kilograms (550 pounds).
CASA C-212 SERIES 300: _____________________ _________________ _______________________ spec metric english _____________________ _________________ _______________________ wingspan 20.28 meters 66 feet 6 inches wing area 41 sq_meters 441.3 sq_feet length 16.15 meters 53 feet height 6.6 meters 21 feet 8 inches empty weight* 4,400 kilograms 9,700 pounds normal weight 7,700 kilograms 16,975 pounds MTO weight 8,000 kilograms 17,635 pounds cruise speed 355 KPH 220 MPH / 190 KT loaded takeoff length 610 meters 2,000 feet loaded landing length 460 meters 1,515 feet service ceiling 7,925 meters 26,000 feet range (max load) 1,435 kilometers 520 MI / 450 NMI range (max fuel)** 2,680 kilometers 1,665 MI / 1,445 NMI _____________________ _________________ _______________________ * Empty weight in equipped freighter configuration.
An airliner variant of the Series 300 was offered with a rear fairing instead of a tail ramp, increasing passenger seating to 21 seats, if a toilet was included, or 23 seats if not. Semi-custom VIP transport configurations were also available.
A "Series 400" was introduced in 1997. It looked externally much like the Series 300, but it was powered by Honeywell TPE-331-12JR engines with a takeoff power of 690 kW (925 SHP). Avionics were heavily revised, being relocated generally to the nose and the aircrew given a "glass cockpit" with four displays. The passenger windows went to a square configuration instead of a round configuration, providing a distinctive recognition feature. Incidentally, it seems the name "Aviocar" is downplayed these days.
* At least 480 C-212s of all variants have been built. The very last C-212 to be produced by EADS-CASA was rolled out in early 2013, but IAE continues to sell an updated "NC-212" variant, introduced in 2012. This series features updated avionics, and also commercial passenger seating increased from 25 to 28. The C-212 may be pedestrian, but it is very useful and cost-effective, which means it's likely to be around for a long time more.
IAE is now working on an "N219" 19-seat twin-turboprop short-haul airliner, targeted at Indonesian domestic operators. Imagery shows a machine that has a clear resemblance to the C-212, but IAE says it is a "clean sheet" design, and distinctly differs from the C-212 in features such as a large double loading door on the left rear side of the fuselage.BACK_TO_TOP
* Thanks to its utility, serviceability, and in particular its low cost, the C-212 has been obtained by dozens of civil operators, plus a similarly long list of government / military users. Government / military operators include:
Brazil signed a contract for obtaining up to 50 C-212-400 machines to replace EMBRAER Bandeirante transports in 2006, but the deal was canceled, the Brazilians deciding to update the Bandeirantes instead. However, at least one C-212 has been flown in Brazil, it appears by a civil operator, for geophysical survey, this machine featuring a truly bizarre array of antennas and a cable loop strung from nose to wingtips to rear fuselage. The handful of C-212s obtained by the USA were for the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), with these aircraft designated "C-41A".
The Spanish Air Force (Ejercito del Aire / EdA) was the biggest single user of the Series 100, obtaining 79 machines, most of the "C-212A" basic utility transport variant, known as "T.12B" in EdA service, but including small numbers of other subvariants:
Incidentally, the TR-12D machines were converted from preproduction machines and appear to have retained three-bladed props, at least for a time.
* The C-212 being effectively a "flying truck" that can be fitted out with a range of gear, it has been adapted to a wide range of special roles, some of which -- like geophysical or photo survey -- were mentioned above. Along with Spain, Portugal and the UAE obtained C-212s for EW training.
The C-212 is a useful machine for ocean patrol or search and rescue (SAR). Mexico, Sweden, Spain, the Sudan, Venezuela, and Vietnam have obtained C-212 maritime patrol machines, the name "Patrullero" being associated with the role. The Mexican Navy Patrulleros are based on the Series 200 and feature Raytheon Seavue radar, the EADS-CASA "Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS)", and an infrared imager turret, and bubble side windows for visual observation. Other possible kit for patrol C-212s include an "electronic surveillance measures (ESM)" system to characterize and locate radar and radio emitters; cameras; rescue gear for airdrop to survivors of an accident; a "magnetic anomaly detector (MAD)" system for antisubmarine warfare (ASW); as well as a sonobuoy / flare-marker dispenser, also for ASW.BACK_TO_TOP
* In 1980, CASA joined forces with IPTN to collaborate under the "Airtech" banner on an improved follow-on to the C-212. CASA was the first to fly a prototype of the "CN-235", as it was designated, with initial flight on 11 November 1983. IPTN followed, with initial prototype flight on 30 December. Initial production deliveries were in late 1986.
As it emerged, the CN-235 -- known as the "CN-235M" in strictly military configuration -- is a tidy aircraft with a classic cargolifter configuration, with a high wing; conventional tail arrangement with a tailfin fillet and twin fixed ventral fins; retractable tricycle landing gear with the main gear in sponsons; and a single turboprop engine on each wing, driving a reversible four-bladed propeller, with blades made of fiberglass over a metal core. The prop on one of the engines can be disabled to allow the engine to be used as a auxiliary power unit for ground power. Construction is mostly aircraft aluminum, with some composite assemblies; the two manufacturers each build different subsets of the airframe, shipping their assemblies to each other so they can perform final assembly.
The aircraft is pressurized and climate-conditioned. The outer panels of the wings have a 3-degree dihedral droop; the wings are fitted with high-lift devices for good STOL performance, with single-slotted flaps inboard and outboard of the engines. Flight controls are manual, except for hydraulic flap actuation. The landing gear was designed with rough-field operation in mind. The steerable nose gear has a single wheel and retracts forward, while the main gear has twin wheels in tandem and retracts straight up; there are no main gear doors, the tires remaining slightly exposed after retraction. The gear system retracts hydraulically, and the main gear features antiskid brakes. The flight surfaces feature leading-edge pneumatic deicing boots, while the props, engine inlets, windscreens, and flight data sensors are electrically deiced.
Initial engine fit for the initial 30 "Series 10" machines was the General Electric (GE) CT7-7A turboprop, with 1,305 kW (1,750 SHP) takeoff power. The engines featured a fire-extinguishing system. After production of 15 Series 10 machines each by CASA and IPTN, in 1988 CN-235 production was updated to the CT7-9C engine, with the same power rating but technical improvements, in the "Series 100" -- known as "Series 110" in Indonesian production. The Series 100/110 also featured new composite engine nacelles.
AIRTECH CN-235: _____________________ _________________ _______________________ spec metric english _____________________ _________________ _______________________ wingspan 25.8 meters 84 feet 8 inches wing area 59 sq_meters 634.8 sq_feet length 21.4 meters 70 feet 1 inch height 8.18 meters 26 feet 10 inches empty weight 8,800 kilograms 19,400 pounds MTO weight 16,500 kilograms 36,375 pounds cruise speed 460 KPH 285 MPH / 250 KT loaded takeoff length 755 meters 2,475 feet loaded landing length 600 meters 1,970 feet service ceiling 8,110 meters 36,600 feet range (max load) 1,500 kilometers 930 MI / 810 NMI range (max fuel) 5,000 kilometers 3,100 MI / 2,700 NMI _____________________ _________________ _______________________
Typical aircrew for a CN-235 in civil configuration is pilot, copilot, and a flight attendant, with toilet, galley, and overhead luggage bins standard. Conventional civil aircraft avionics -- radios and navaids -- are fitted, as well as Collins WXR-300 weather radar. There are two doors on each side of the fuselage, one forward and aft:
There is a two-piece tail door that operates much like the door on the CASA 212 -- though it doesn't have the distinctive pair of wheels used by the C-212. In pure airliner configuration, the CN-235 can haul 44 to 48 passengers in a four-across arrangement. Airliners have a pressure bulkhead in the rear, but retain the tail doors, which are used for access to a baggage bin. A "quick-change / combi" variant, the "CN-235QC", was developed, capable of hauling four LD3 containers, or 18 passengers and two LD3 containers. In cargolifter configuration, a floor roller system eases handling of cargo. Semi-custom VIP configurations were also sold.
In CN-235M military configuration, the crew typically consists of pilot, copilot, and loadmaster; photos suggest that the two doors in the rear open inward for paratroop dropping. The CN-235 can carry 48 troops or 46 paratroops, or 24 litters and four attendants for the medevac mission; it can also be fitted with a floor roller system for handling cargo, with the maximum cargo load being 5,000 kilograms (11,000 pounds).
The early CN-235 Series 100 was replaced in production in 1992 by the "Series 200", with a number of minor tweaks and an increase in operating weights. IPTN came up with a comparable "Series 220" in 1996, but the design tweaks were made generally independently of CASA. CASA went on from the Series 200 to the "Series 300", with a Honeywell avionics suite, a "glass cockpit" with optional head-up displays (HUDs), MILSTD-1553B and ARINC 429 digital databuses, and further minor tweaks, including an option for two-wheel nose gear. IPTN/IAE also developed a "Series 330" variant for an Australian requirement, but didn't win the award.BACK_TO_TOP
* As with the C-212, the CN-235 has been acquired by dozens of operators. Government / military operators include:
At least 42 CN-235s were obtained by Indonesia, while Turkey obtained at least 61, most assembled locally by Turkish Aerospace Industries; Spain acquired 20; South Korea 20; France 19; the USA 14; and Thailand 10. These quantities include special-mission platforms, as discussed below.
* The CN-235 could be configured for special missions such as EW or maritime patrol, and in fact it has proven to be a very popular maritime patrol platform. CASA and IPTN went different ways on the concept, however, with CASA offering the "CN-235MP Persuader" and IPTN offering the "CN-235MPA":
Six underwing stores pylons can be fitted for unpowered torpedoes, depth charges, antiship missiles, air-to-surface missiles, countermeasures pods, surveillance pods, or searchlights, with pylons rated for carriage of 800, 500, and 300 kilograms (1,760, 1,100, and 660 pounds) from inboard to outboard. It's hard to find any images of a CN-235 with more than two pylons. Aircraft systems are coordinated with FITS.
Colombia, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, and the USA have obtained the CN-235MP Persuader. The American variant was obtained by the US Coast Guard (USCG) and is designated the "HC-144A Ocean Sentry", or formally the "Medium Range Surveillance Aircraft". It is based on the CN-235-300 variant, featuring a 360-degree search radar in a belly fairing and an undernose camera turret with a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) imager. Mission systems are integrated in a modular pallet that can be easily removed and then reinstalled, allowing the aircraft to be used in the cargolift role when necessary. The avionics kit has a high degree of compatibility with the USCG HC-130J Hercules long-range rescue aircraft.
Initial delivery of the Ocean Sentry was in 2007, with an initial batch of of 12 machines obtained, replacing the older USCG Dassault Falcon-based HU-25A patrol aircraft. The HC-144A is slower than the HU-25A, but has greater patrol endurance, of up to 11 hours, and greater payload capacity. The rear cargo ramp of the CN-235 was retained, allowing it to drop large life rafts or other gear for rescue operations. The USCG plans to acquire 36 HC-144A machines in all. Incidentally, the US Air Force SOCOM operates at least two transport CN-235s for special operations; it appears these are hand-me-down machines, though it's not clear who the original operator was.
The CN-235MPA has been obtained or is being obtained by Brunei, Indonesia, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. While Airtech has promoted EW and surveillance / photosurvey variants of the CN-235, it is unclear if anyone has obtained such special-purpose machines. However, in 2011 Jordan signed a contract with ATK to convert two of the country's existing CN-235 transports into gunships. The gunships will feature an M230 30 millimeter chain gun firing out the left side of the aircraft, plus a stub wing above each main landing gear fairing for external stores. External stores will include Hellfire laser-guided missiles or 70 millimeter rocket pods, with carriage capacity of up to eight stores. The gunships will be fitted with a surveillance / targeting suite, including an imager turret with a laser target designator, as well as a fire-control system for the weaponry. The aircraft are scheduled to be redelivered in 2013. Other customers have expressed interest in use of the CN-235 as a gunship.
Other special-mission variants of the CN-235 have been considered, including an "airborne early warning (AEW)" system with a Swedish Ericsson Erieye active phased array radar. Nothing came of this concept, and it doesn't seem anyone has acquired EW variants of the CN-235, either.BACK_TO_TOP
* In the mid-1990s CASA, which by that time had become an arm of EADS, began work on a "stretched" derivative of the CN-235, which emerged as the "C-295". Initial flight of the prototype, a converted CN-235, was on 28 November 1997, with initial flight of the first production C-295 on 22 December 1998 and certification following in 1999. The C-295 was almost identical to the CN-235 except for a fuselage extended by 3.1 meters (10 feet), with 50% more payload capacity, larger wing tanks, and more powerful PWC PW127G engines, providing 1,972 kW (2,645 SHP) each, driving six-bladed Hamilton-Standard props. Incidentally, IPTN planned their own stretched machine, the "CN-245", but it didn't happen.
The C-295 -- or "C-295M" in its military form -- features a "glass cockpit", designed by Thales, compatible with night vision devices (NVGs), with optional HUDs. Honeywell RDR-1400C color weather radar is standard. The aircraft can be optionally fitted with a fixed inflight refueling probe. Two crew are normal, with dual controls and a lavatory standard kit. The C-295 can haul 75 troops; 48 paratroops; 27 stretcher cases with four attendants; or 12 stretchers and attendants in a "flying hospital" / intensive-care configuration. The cargo bay has a volume of 57 cubic meters (2,010 cubic feet); cargo loads include up to five standard pallets or three light utility vehicles, with total cargo weight reaching 9,250 kilograms (20,390 pounds).
EADS-CASA C-295: _____________________ _________________ _______________________ spec metric english _____________________ _________________ _______________________ wingspan 25.8 meters 84 feet 8 inches wing area 59 sq_meters 634.8 sq_feet length 24.5 meters 80 feet 3 inches height 8.6 meters 28 feet 3 inches empty weight 11,000 kilograms 24,250 pounds MTO weight 23,200 kilograms 51,150 pounds cruise speed 480 KPH 300 MPH / 260 KT loaded takeoff length 670 meters 2,200 feet loaded landing length 320 meters 1,050 feet service ceiling 9,145 meters 30,000 feet range (max load) 1,455 kilometers 905 MI / 785 NMI range (max fuel) 4,500 kilometers 2,795 MI / 2,430 NMI _____________________ _________________ _______________________
Countries that have obtained the C-295 or have it on order include Algeria, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico, Oman, Portugal, and Spain. C-295s in Spanish service are designated "T.21". Venezuela tried to buy them as well, but the US, at odds with the hostile regime of the late Venezuela strongman Hugo Chavez, managed to block the sale.
The C-295 can be fitted with cockpit armor and defensive countermeasures systems, including a radar warning receiver, missile and laser warning systems, and chaff-flare dispensers; potentially, an undernose imager turret could be fitted for the special operations transport role. It can be obtained in a maritime patrol ("C-295MPA Persuader") or similar ASW ("C-295 ASW") configuration, with features such as a nose imager turret, a search radar in a radome under the nose, ESM, and a tail MAD boom, with all combat systems linked together by the FITS system. It features bubble observation windows, and can be fitted with up to six underwing pylons for torpedoes, depth charges, countermeasures or surveillance pods, and searchlight -- though again, it appears that two pylons are the norm. It appears that antiship missiles have not been traditionally supported, but work is underway to qualify the MBDA Marte missile for carriage.
Portugal has obtained the C-295MPA -- featuring Northrop Grumman AN/APN-241 color weather radar in a distinctive nose radome in place of the standard Honeywell weather radar -- while Chile has obtained both the C-295MPA and C-295 ASW. Portuguese machines feature "roll-on / roll-off" systems along the lines of those of the USCG HC-144. Oman is obtaining three MPA machines along with a set of transports. The Finns are converting one of their C-295s into an airborne surveillance platform, details of which are unclear.
EADS is now working using company funds on an AEW variant of the C-295, flying an aircraft with a dummy rotodome mounted on top of the rear fuselage and a cooling intake above the wing center section in 2011 to validate structure and aerodynamics. What radar might be carried depends on customer needs. An operational machine would have 4 to 6 operators and endurance of up to 8 hours, with an inflight refueling probe of course optional. There is also consideration of gunship variants, as well as general technical improvements for the C-295, such as:
Obviously, technologies developed for the C-295 are likely to make their way back to the C-235.BACK_TO_TOP
* I got to talking to a Spanish correspondent about the C-212 and commented that it seemed along the lines of Soviet design philosophy: make it cheap, make it simple, make it rugged, make it easy to maintain. The response was that at the time, the Spanish military was dependent on minimally-trained conscripts, and so simplicity was an important factor in procurement considerations.
Trying to track down specifics on the CASA transports ended up being something of an exercise in frustration, there being no great number of detailed sources on the types, with the highly variable operational configurations of these aircraft complicating matters. I was, however, happy to get a shot of a C-212 of my own down at Denver International Airport; maybe I'll get photos of an HC-144 at an airshow one of these days.
* Sources include:
I referenced all the JANE'S ALL THE WORLD'S AIRCRAFT I could find, and also found quite a few bits and pieces on the internet. Hopefully I'll be able to track down more information for later releases.
* Revision history:
v1.0.0 / 01 apr 11 / v1.1.0 / 01 may 11 / Follow-up cleanup release. v1.2.0 / 01 apr 13 / C-295 AEW, Oman obtains C-295MPA. C-295 winglets & Marte missile.BACK_TO_TOP