Flying Colours Corp. has signed an agreement with Conair Group to modify six production Q400MR aircraft to support multi-purpose missions.
Flying Colours will be responsible for the engineering, fabrication, installation, certification and completion of four different cabin interiors to support passenger, cargo, combi-transport and medevac special missions.
As part of the modification process Flying Colours will integrate a customized Inmarsat Cobham Aviator 700 inflight connectivity system. This will enable flexible communications and connectivity via the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband network that can be adapted for each aircraft mission.
The Aviator 700 is a compact design combining a High Gain Antenna (HGA) to offer a multitude of capabilities to pilot and crew including the option of voice dialling from the cockpit MCDUs. It can also support FANS 1/A (Future Air Navigation System), CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) and voice safety service operations via the system’s cockpit data and H+ voice channels.
Cobham says it features built-in wireless connectivity, becoming the aircraft’s very own Wi-Fi hotspot in the sky, supporting in-flight use of smart phones, personal tablets and laptops.
In passenger mode, the interior will accommodate up to 64 passengers; the full air freighter mode will transport up to nine tons of cargo; while the medevac format will support up to six stretchers, associated medical equipment and clinical team. The combined passenger/cargo interior will carry up to 19 passengers along with freight.
The first aircraft will be inducted in March 2018 at the Flying Colours KSUS St. Louis, MO. facility. The subsequent aircraft modifications will take place over the next several years. When redelivered each aircraft will benefit from access to four interior options, that can be quickly switched in and out, according to mission requirements.
Each aircraft will also incorporate an upgraded version of Conair’s proprietary Retardant Delivery System which will carry more water, or retardant, than the existing 10 000 litre capacity. The retardant tank can be easily removed and installed in the field within a few hours. The ability to easily change the aircraft to one of five different mission options will maximise operational efficiency, and costs, in a diverse range of operating environments.
Flying Colours says it will use its considerable experience in the completions field to fulfil the specialty aircraft mandate.
Sean Gillespie, Executive VP Flying Colours Corp, said: “We have been awarded the project based on our extensive know-how and capabilities having worked on complex special mission projects for military and governments around the world.
“We worked hard throughout the highly competitive bid process to demonstrate that we will provide an innovative approach to completing a multi-faceted project. This is the first time that a Q400 has had all these interior types configured for a single fuselage, it’s a unique project and we are delighted to have been awarded the contract.”
Barry Marsden, Chairman and CEO, Conair, added: “This is a very important project for Conair Group Inc. as it maximizes the potential of the interior of the aircraft while maintaining its exceptional ability as an aerial firefighting aircraft. We selected Flying Colours as it is renowned for its flexibility and expertise in missionising aircraft to very particular cabin specifications.”