Boeing Maritime Patrol Demonstrator Makes First Flight

 - March 5, 2014, 2:31 PM
Boeing's Maritime Surveillance Aircraft demonstrator, a modified Challenger 604, made its first flight on February 28. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing said its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) demonstrator, a modified Bombardier Challenger 604, completed its first flight on February 28 from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Subcontractor Field Aviation conducted the four-hour test flight.

“We accomplished everything we set out to achieve,” stated 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.”

In November, Boeing selected the Challenger 605 as the platform for the MSA, which takes advantage of technologies developed for the larger Boeing 737-based P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft the U.S. and Indian navies use. The Royal Australian Air Force has also ordered P-8s. The MSA’s baseline configuration features an active electronically scanned array multi-mode radar, an electro-optical/infrared sensor, electronic support measures, a communications intelligence sensor and automated identification system, Boeing said. Field Aviation will modify the Challenger 605 structure and systems for the MSA configuration.

The MSA is designed for search-and-rescue, anti-piracy, coastal and border security missions. “Not everyone is going to need a full P-8 capability,” Jim Armington, Boeing vice president for East Asia and Pacific international business development, said during the Singapore Airshow in February. “The MSA will bring about 80 percent of the capability at a much lower price.”

Boeing said it achieved the first flight of the MSA demonstrator on an accelerated schedule, using the rapid prototyping and lean manufacturing techniques of its Phantom Works advanced technology organization. The companies will conduct more airworthiness flights over the next two months. Once those flights are completed, the aircraft will fly to a Boeing facility in Seattle, where the company will install and test the MSA mission systems.