Bombardier is confident that a proposed multi-mission variant of its Q400 is set to propel the turboprop into use for specialised, non-airline missions.

"A lot of aerospace companies and nations are looking at Q400 multi-mission aircraft," says David Jurkowski, Bombardier's vice-president, government relations and sales support, specialised and amphibious aircraft.

A maritime patrol variant is promising, he says, and the Q400 is also well-suited to anti-submarine operations, fixed-wing search and rescue, utility transport and C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance).

Of particular relevance in North America is a maritime patrol variant of the Q400, says Derek Gilmour, Bombardier’s vice-president, sales, marketing and administration, specialised and amphibious aircraft.

Bombardier says it has held "preliminary collaboration with Canadian companies on Q400 variants" in addition to "parallel independent internal work". Over 300 specialised Bombardier aircraft fly in more than 35 countries and smaller Q200 and Q300 aircraft are already used for maritime patrol missions.


Q400 MMA
 © Bombardier

The turboprop already plays a minor role outside commercial aviation. Two former Scandinavian Airlines Q400s were acquired in 2004 from Bombardier and sold to the French department of civil defence the following year. Modification specialist Cascade Aerospace converted the aircraft into an aerial fire-control role for the French. "The Q400 water tank carries at least 20,000lb [9,080kg] of water - 10,000lb a side," says Gilmour.

Also being targeted for non-civil use in the North American market is the Bombardier Global Express. Several highly modified versions of the business jet currently form the backbone of the Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) system delivered to the UK's Royal Air Force by prime contractor Raytheon Systems.

"The heart of the [ASTOR] system is still the commercial aircraft. You may add radar, but it's all in addition to the commercial aircraft," says Gilmour, adding that both the Q400 and Global Express are now "competing in the growing specialised world market".

Source: Flight International