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Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Demonstrator Makes First Flight

The Bombardier Challenger 604 business jet was built to ensure that high-powered executives travel in style. However, the one that took off from Pearson International Airport in Toronto wasn’t carrying businessmen and briefcases, but rather modifications for an array of technologies that were developed by Boeing for its P-8A Poseidon program, according to a Boeing release.

The MSA program is designed to provide a low-cost maritime surveillance aircraft for countries looking to fulfill search and rescue, anti-piracy patrols, and coastal and border security missions.  The baseline configuration consists of an active electronically scanned array multimode radar (AESA), an electro/optical/infrared sensor, electronic support measures, a communications intelligence sensor, and an automated identification system. These technologies were originally developed for the P-8A, which is starting to deploy for the U.S. Navy.

The flight was the first for the Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) demonstrator and served as the start of two months worth of airworthiness trials for the aircraft. Although a Boeing program, the flight was carried out by Field Aviation using a Boeing-owned 604. “We accomplished everything we set out to achieve,” said Field Aviation pilot Craig Tylski. “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.”

Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA)

Boeing is hoping to turn a Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet into a platform for its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) program. Boeing photo illustration

The four-hour flight took place on Feb. 28 and served as a baseline for the flight and handling conditions of the aircraft after modifications to the airframe and systems were made by Field Aviation. After the flight, the MSA demonstrator was flown to a Boeing facility in Yuma, Ariz., for continued tests. Once airworthiness of the MSA demonstrator is verified, and certified by the FAA and Transport Canada, the airplane will move to a Boeing facility in Seattle, Wash. There, MSA mission systems will be installed and tested at the Boeing facility.

The MSA program is designed to provide a low-cost maritime surveillance aircraft for countries looking to fulfill search and rescue, anti-piracy patrol, and coastal and border security roles.  The baseline configuration consists of an active electronically scanned array multimode radar (AESA), an electro/optical/infrared sensor, electronic support measures, a communications intelligence sensor, and an automated identification system. These technologies were originally developed for the P-8A, which is starting to deploy for the U.S. Navy.

The selection of the similar Bombardier Challenger 605 as the MSA platform was announced at Dubai Airshow 2013. At the time of the announcement Boeing explained why the 605 was selected. “The Challenger 605 is an ideal platform to host MSA’s mission system, sensors and communications equipment,” said Tim Peters, Boeing vice president and general manager, Mobility, Surveillance & Engagement. “It also provides the power, payload capacity, range, speed and endurance that our customers tell us they need for missions such as anti-piracy; coastal and border security; and long-range search and rescue.”

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...