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The mythical Spanish aircraft C-212 Aviocar turns 50

On March 26, 1971, the prototype of the CASA C-212 Aviocar aircraft flew for the first time, today, 50 years after this milestone, at Getafe Airport (Madrid), the most successful aircraft of Spanish design and production of all time is on the five continents still active.

The aircraft, the result of the work of a team of Spanish aerospace engineers from Construcciones Aeronuticas Sociedad Annima CASA (now Airbus Defense & Space), was built for decades until the production chain in São Paulo was closed in January 2013. (Seville) after a last C-212-400 was handed over to the Vietnamese Maritime Police at the end of December 2012. The production then took place in the factory of the Indonesian state company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) in the city of Bandung. (West Java-Indonesia) where it is still fully functional.

Around 500 units have been produced since 1971, from the 8 pre-series aircraft operated by the Spanish Air Force to the modern versions of the 400 series and the latest version developed by PTDI called NC212i. Although the so-called 100 and 200 series were the most productive, the evidence of the efficiency of this small transport with two turbines and without pressure is that a large part of the vehicles built is still in the hands of trade and military service operators and even in the ranks of the most famous secret service in the world, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The versatility of the C-212, in addition to transporting passengers and cargo to the world’s most inhospitable routes, made it possible to adapt to all types of missions and roles such as skydiving, electronic warfare or electronic warfare (EW), gunboats, evacuation, instruction, VIP transport etc., although the place where a career has been built is in the role of patrol and rescue aircraft or sea patrol aircraft / search and rescue aircraft (MPA / SAR).

As it could not be otherwise, one of the main operators was and is the Spanish Air Force. In the 1970s, a total of 71 aircraft of the preliminary and 100 series were delivered to the facility, mainly to perform tasks of transport, but also of navigation, VIP and reconnaissance trainers. Later another 17 of the 200 series were recorded at different times. Among the latter, we highlight that in the 1980s the company supplied 9 of the so-called duckbill, the cell of which was specially designed to house a radar and a large radome, 7 of which began to perform the aforementioned MPA / SAR functions D.3B.

The other two were of an electronic variant called the EC212, which was designed to perform electronic intelligence (ELINT) and electronic countermeasures (ECM) tasks. This version was developed at the request of the Portuguese Forum Area (FAP), which has also operated the C212 for more than three decades, although the Air Force soon recognized its potential and acquired it and named it TM.12D. In 1995 the National Aerospace Institute (INTA) received two units belonging to the Spanish Postal Service and, after a complete overhaul, agreed to switch in 1997 after signing an agreement with the Air Force.

In addition, between 1997 and 2010 employees of the military institution used six more C212s from the Customs Surveillance Service (SVA), which is integrated into the Ministry of Finance, for two periods and from 2014. During the first action, they dealt with crews from Wing 37, based in Villanubla (Valladolid), although the sensors were and are being handled by members of the above-mentioned service of the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration. After their management was privatized, they were again operated by the Air Force, although, as we shall see later, they were reduced to 4 aircraft.

In summary, it can be said that a total of 88 C212s flew more than 700,000 hours with the insignia of Spain, of which barely more than 14 days are currently in use, including the 4 of the SVA, which are mainly housed in the 721 squadron and provide the essentials for flight material to the Military Parachute School (EMP) Mndez Parada (Julio Maz Sanz)

Photo: C-212 formation of the 721st Air Force Squadron flying over Murcia. (Photo photo office of EMP)

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