The growing threat to the security and natural resources of maritime nations has created a new market in the conversion of civil aircraft for the patrol and surveillance role. One of the leading suppliers is Toronto-based Field Aviation, which is here with a highly modified Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 twin-turboprop it has just delivered to the Swedish Coast Guard.
On display in the static park, the aircraft is the first of three being acquired by the Swedes in a deal worth more than $80 million. As prime contractor and integrator Field led a team comprising airframe manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace and L-3 Communications - Integrated Systems, which supplied the air-to-surface sensor systems.
“This aircraft is fitted with some of the world’s most capable environmental surveillance sensors as well as equipment for the search and rescue role,” says Field chief operating officer Joar Grunland. “This multi-role capability has also attracted the Icelandic Coast Guard, who have signed up with us for an almost identical aircraft.”
The Swedish aircraft features long-range fuel tanks and surveillance systems that include a maritime search radar; an electro-optical/infra-red pod; side-looking radar and an infra-red/ultra-violet line-scanner, all feeding into L-3’s Mission Management System. Field integrated the systems into the aircraft, designed and built a new eight-station cabin interior, and installed an air-delivery system comprising a drop tube for flares and oil-sampling buoys and a proprietary air-operable rear door for inflatable life rafts and other large items.
Field’s order book for Dash 8 conversions now totals 29 aircraft. In addition to the Swedish aircraft, ten Q200s and Q300s have been delivered to Surveillance Australia, and four Q200s to US Customs and Border Protection. Work is under way on three Q300s for the Japan Coast Guard, with a further two on order, and modification of the Icelandic Q300 is due to start soon. Undisclosed customers have three Q300s on order and a further three on option.
Source: Flight International