The US Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center has purchased the prototype CN235 aircraft and plans to transform it into an HC-144A maintenance training unit. The HC-144A is based on the Airbus Military CN235 tactical airlifter. More than 230 CN235s are in service around the world.
The transformation will configure the CN235 with systems from the HC-144. The systems will have built-in faults that will allow maintenance personnel the opportunity to learn troubleshooting on actual HC-144 aircraft.
“It is very satisfying to see this airframe being used as an integral part of the HC-144A programme,” said Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America chairman and CEO. “We look forward to its performing many years of service in training the technicians who will keep the fleet safe in the air.”
The USCG Aviation Technical Training Center, located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, currently has similar training aids for other fleet aircraft, including the EADS Eurocopter MH-65 Dolphin helicopter. The HC-144 maintenance training unit will be the first of its kind for an Airbus Military aircraft when the transformation is complete.
Formally known as P1, the CN235 prototype was christened Infanta Elena, after the Spanish royal family member who acted as its godmother on its roll-out in 1983. It was initially demonstrated at the Farnborough and Paris airshows, and was dedicated to the certification and development of the CN235 aircraft platform. It later served as a company demonstrator for the -100 series, -200 series and maritime patrol version.
The United States Coast Guard operates 14 HC-144A Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft and has four additional planes on order scheduled for delivery in 2013 and 2014. With the ability to remain airborne for more than 10 hours, the Ocean Sentry is performing a wide range of maritime patrol missions for the Coast Guard, including drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue. The HC-144A achieved initial operational capability with the Coast Guard in 2008, and today is operational from Coast Guard air stations in Mobile, Alaska, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Miami.
The attached photo shows the aircraft being prepared for delivery.
Able to carry up to six tons of payload and with a maximum cruise speed of 240kt (450km/h), the CN235 is able to take off from, and land on, short, semi-prepared runways with soft surfaces, thanks to its Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) characteristics and the strong landing gear with tandem low-pressure tyre. Its excellent handling qualities, high manoeuvrability and fast engine (two General Electric GE CT7-9C3, 1870 shp) response allow safe critical operations at a very low altitude. Outstanding reliability and supportability result in high aircraft availability and the lowest life cycle cost in its class.