The response to the volcanic ash crisis has proved to be an important application for the Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 operated by Iceland’s coast guard. The aircraft was delivered last year after Canada’s Field Aviation modified it for maritime surveillance duties, and in recent months has been pressed into service to keep a watchful eye on the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
The Dash 8 is the only aircraft in Iceland with the necessary equipment to be able to pinpoint the eruption site accurately in zero-visibility conditions. The data it has gathered about volcanic activity has been invaluable to geophysicists, volcanologists, meteorologists and other specialists.
The radar equipment installed by Field (Hall 4 Stand C20) allows the coast guard to see through the volcanic plumes to photograph the status and exact location of the crater. The Dash 8 Q300 twin turboprop is also equipped with long-range fuel capabilities and an auxiliary power unit, enabling it to perform missions lasting more than eight hours.
Modifications included a maritime search radar, side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) and an electro-optical/infrared pod (FLIR). These systems are connected and controlled via an L-3 Communications integrated data handling system.
Field Aviation also undertook a series of structural modifications to the Dash 8, which included designing, engineering and integrating a new interior, and installing Bombardier’s proprietary active noise and vibration system. The company has also designed and approved a flight operable rear cargo door used for more normal maritime patrol functions such deploying location flares, oil sampling buoys and inflatable rafts, as well as by personnel needing to “paradrop” to the ground or to a vessel.