Boeing’s Challenger 604 MSA test-bed completes first test flight
Boeing’s Bombardier Challenger 604 based Maritime Surveillance Aircraft has completed its first test flight.
Boeing’s Bombardier Challenger 604 Maritime Surveillance test-bed aircraft has completed its first flight since Field Aviation modified the basic airframe to accept the new electronic sensors and equipment.
Although Boeing selected the Bombardier Challenger 605 for the MSA programme, it used a Challenger 604 from its own fleet of corporate jets to install the first set of systems into.
Structurally modified for its military mission by Field Aviation of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Challenger 605 MSA will carry similar camera, radar and communications & electronic sensor systems that Boeing designed for its 737-based P-8 Poseidon.
The four hour first flight of modified Challenger 604 (MSN 5614 / N614BA (c/n 5614) from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport was designed to check the structural integrity of the modified airframe.
“We accomplished everything we set out to achieve,” said Craig Tylski, pilot for Field Aviation Pilot, “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.”
The aircraft has since been flown to Boeing’s Yuma, Arizona, facility, where further airworthiness tests will be carried out over the next two months.
The aircraft will then be flown to Seattle, where Boeing will begin the MSA sensor and communications missions systems installation.
Designed to be a lower cost alternative to the P-8 Poseidon, the Challenger 605 based MSA is expected to cost $60 million, with Boeing estimating the size of the market to be 100 aircraft.
Challenger-based aircraft are already deployed in similar roles by several air forces, with the number set to rise later in the year when the Hong Kong government accepts delivery of two search and rescue adapted Challenger 605s.