Oil spills, pirate hunts fill Q300’s work day

 - July 18, 2010, 12:09 AM

Mapping oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and hunting for pirates off the coast of Somalia are among the many tasks performed by Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 twin turboprops modified for the maritime surveillance role by Canada’s Field Aviation (Hall 4 Stand C20).

Last week, the Icelandic Coast Guard Q300 arrived at Houma, Louisiana, to fly vital missions that will map the oil spill and enhance containment and recovery in the Gulf of Mexico.

The aircraft is equipped with an ELTA maritime search radar with a 360-degree field-of-view, two Swedish Space Corp. side-looking airborne radars (SLARs), and an L-3/Wescam electro-optical pod integrated with an L-3/IS mission management system. It is capable of providing a complete picture, so oil booms and recovery vessels can be positioned for optimum effect against the drifting oil mass.

The Icelandic aircraft has joined the U.S. Coast Guard, BP and other organizations in their combined attempt to clean up the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The aircraft is expected to stay in the Gulf area for the next 30 days.

Q300 Returns from Operation Atlanta
Earlier this month, one of the Swedish Coast Guard’s Q300s returned to its base after completing a four-month intensive hunt for suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The aircraft, one of three modified by Field Aviation and delivered to Sweden, had participated in Operation Atlanta, which is the European Union’s organized effort to detect, document and report suspicious pirate activities, prevent pirate attacks on commercial shipping in the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Somalia, and perform fisheries surveillance.

According to the Swedish Coast Guard, the Q300 covered vast areas of the Indian Ocean and detected 32 suspicious pirate mother-ships and 56 smaller attack craft, which resulted in several groups being intercepted and arrested. During the 110-day operation, the aircraft flew 89 missions for a total airborne time of 566 hours.

Field Aviation’s continued enhancements to the Dash 8 aircraft were demonstrated by its most recent supplemental type certificate for its WAAS/SBAS LPV (wide area augmentation system/satellite-based augmentation system/lateral precision vertical guidance). This provides a low-cost upgrade to existing flight management systems and permits the aircraft to perform optimally during “coupled” LPV approaches at lowest published minimums, without limiting the existing crosswind limits of the Dash 8. The built-in growth potential |may include full precision approach capabilities.

Further enhancements will be achieved with the company’s soon to be released EFI-890R HD flat-panel display, which is the centerpiece of Field’s flight-deck modernization program for the Dash 100/200/300 series.