The CASA C-212 Aviocar is a STOL medium cargo aircraft, built by Spanish manufacturer CASA.
Designed for civil and military use, it arose during the 1960s, fulfilling the Spanish Air Force’s transport needs. It’s versatile, serving as an ambulance, paratroop carrier, and transport utility.
The first flight was on 26 March 1971, with Spanish Air Force orders following in three years. It attracted military and civilian users, prompting CASA to create a civil version. In total, 483 aircraft were produced over 40 years in Seville.
Indonesia, a prominent customer, secured production rights in 1975. Indonesian company IPTN built a production line in Bandung, Indonesia, producing 95 NC-212s by 2000.
Most served domestic needs with some reaching the Asian market. In 2013, Airbus transferred full C-212 production to Indonesia’s PTDI.
They produced enhanced models, fitted with advanced avionics, autopilot, and redesigned cabins accommodating up to 28 passengers.
By December 2012, 92 global operators utilized the C-212 for varied roles such as transport, surveillance, and search and rescue.
Its unique rear ramp made it a favorite among skydivers and smokejumpers. Australian airline Skytraders used several C-212s to aid scientific research teams in Antarctica, showcasing its versatility and appeal to diverse sectors.
CASA C 212 Aviocar Back Ground
In the late 1960s, the Spanish Air Force was using outdated transports like the Junkers Ju 52 and Douglas C-47. To modernize, they turned to Spanish manufacturer CASA, which developed the proposed C-212.
It was a versatile, 18-seat twin-engine transport, suitable for military and civilian roles. The first prototype flew on 26 March 1971. By 1974, the Spanish Air Force, impressed with the now-named Aviocar, chose to procure it.
Seeing the interest from several airlines and its success with the military, CASA developed a commercial version of the C-212.
The first commercial model was delivered in July 1975. The improved -400 model came in 1997, featuring enhanced features like a glass cockpit. By August 2006, around 30 CASA-built C-212s were reportedly in global airline service.
However, by July 2010, producing the C-212 in Europe became economically unfeasible for Airbus Military.
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Consequently, the production pace decreased, and by December 2012, the Vietnam Coast Guard received the last Spanish-assembled C-212.
By the line’s end, 477 units had been produced for 92 operators, marking the diverse and broad appeal of the Aviocar in aviation sectors around the world.
Design of CASA C-212 Aviocar
The CASA C-212 Aviocar is a STOL-capable, turboprop-powered cargo aircraft with a high-mounted wing, boxy fuselage, and conventional tail.
It’s designed to operate independently in austere environments without needing ground support.
Its STOL performance and rugged landing gear, fitted with low-pressure tyres, allow for operations from unpaved fields and under challenging conditions. The aircraft features a simple, non-retractable tricycle undercarriage.
The C-212’s cabin can hold between 21 and 28 passengers, depending on the configuration. In a paratroop setup, it accommodates up to 24 paratroopers and a jumpmaster on fold-able sidewall seats.
Alternatively, a mixed configuration can transport up to ten soldiers and a vehicle. Due to its unpressurized fuselage, it is restricted to low-flight-level airline usage, below 10,000 ft MSL, making it ideal for short regional airline services.
In 2013, 290 C-212s were reportedly in operation across 40 countries, with Indonesia leading, possessing 70. This aircraft has seen extensive use both as a commuter airliner and a military vehicle.
It serves various operators, including charter companies and national air forces, for transport, surveillance, and search and rescue operations.
The United States Army Special Operations Command utilizes it as the C-41A for tasks like troop movement and supply drops.
In August 2010, Airbus Military secured a contract to upgrade five C-212-200s for the US Army Special Operations Aviation Command.
Private military contractor Blackwater also operated several during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, primarily for supply drops to remote areas.
Australian airline Skytraders has utilized the C-212 to support scientific research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
Given its unique features and rear ramp arrangement, several operators employ the C-212 in challenging terrains like deserts and jungles, thus enhancing its popularity among skydivers and smokejumpers.
In 1975, Indonesian company IPTN secured a deal with CASA to license-produce up to 108 C-212s in Indonesia.
IPTN, with Nurtanio, engaged in the manufacture of C-212s at their facility in Bandung, Indonesia. CASA supported the establishment of the production line, training local personnel due to the C-212’s simple design.
IPTN had the license to sell aircraft throughout Asia, yet most NC-212s found domestic buyers, only six were reportedly exported by 1986. By 2000, IPTN completed 95 NC-212s.
However, focus shifted to larger projects like the CASA/IPTN CN-235, making the C-212 a secondary priority.
IPTN evolved more advanced versions of the aircraft between 2004 and 2008. Airbus supplied all necessary equipment to Bandung, making Indonesia the sole manufacturer of the NC212-400 model. The licensing agreement saw an extension in 2006.
In July 2011, Airbus initiated strategic collaboration with PTDI (IPTN’s successor) on the C-212, leading to a formal production transfer to Indonesia in February 2013.
As a result, production rates diminished, and by December 2012, the last Spanish-assembled C-212 had reached the Vietnam Coast Guard. However, in 2014, production focus shifted to the improved NC-212i model.