First flight for new Boeing maritime surveillance aircraft


Boeing’s Bombardier Challenger Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) demonstrator has completed its first flight, successfully verifying the airworthiness of the P-8 Poseidon-based system.

Boeing teammate Field Aviation conducted the successful testing during a four hour flight on February 28 from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Field Aviation modified the Bombardier Challenger 604 aircraft’s structures and systems into the MSA configuration. The company modifies DHC-6 Twin Otters to Guardian 400 maritime surveillance platforms and has converted Dash-8 airliners to coastal patrol aircraft.
“We accomplished everything we set out to achieve,” Field Aviation pilot Craig Tylski said. “The aerodynamic performance was right on the money and even with the additional aerodynamic shapes, such as the radome, the demonstrator performed like a normal aircraft. The control and handling were excellent.”

Additional airworthiness flights are scheduled for the next two months, Boeing said. Once they are complete, the aircraft will fly to a Boeing facility in Seattle where the MSA mission systems will be installed and tested.

The MSA uses proven technologies developed for Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft programme to provide multi-mission surveillance capabilities. The baseline configuration features a multi-mode radar (Selex EX Seaspray 7300), an Electro/Optical/Infrared sensor (FLIR Systems Star Safire 380), Electronic Support Measures, a Communications Intelligence sensor and Automated Identification System.

The MSA will cost around $55 million to $60 million, about one-third of the P-8’s price, Flight International reports.

Boeing selected the Challenger 605 business jet as the MSA platform and will leverage Field Aviation’s engineering and modification experience with the Challenger family of aircraft to modify the jet.

The MSA demonstrator is a Boeing-owned Challenger 604, but future aircraft will be based on Bombardier’s updated Challenger 605 with a range of about 2 500 nm (4 630km) and an eight-to-nine hour endurance.
“The Challenger 605 is an ideal platform to host MSA’s mission system, sensors and communications equipment. It also provides the power, payload capacity, range, speed and endurance our customers tell us they need for missions such as anti-piracy, coastal and border security and long-range search and rescue,” Tim Peters, Boeing vice president and general manager, Mobility, Surveillance and Engagement, said at the Dubai Airshow.

Boeing said the aircraft is tailored to missions such as search and rescue, anti-piracy patrols and coastal and border security. The company predicts selling between 150 and 200 MSA and has identified 20 to 30 potential customers.