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OEMs offer customized business jets and TPs

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Readily available business aircraft excel in specialized operations.


Pro Pilot staff compilation

Bombardier Challenger 650 has space for up to 6 workstations and maximum endurance exceeding 11 hours.

Popular business aircraft platforms equipped with advanced technologies enable government agencies and civilian operators to perform missions such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), head-of-state transport, search and rescue (SAR), and emergency medical services (EMS).

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) work with systems integrators to offer solutions for special mission aircraft (SMA) operators. The results are commercial jets and turboprops (TPs) which can be enhanced with the necessary equipment to excel in demanding operating environments.

Choosing available aircraft platforms saves the time and money that would otherwise would be invested in research and development of clean sheet designs. The following are examples of what’s available from major OEMs for SMA operators.

Bombardier

This manufacturer offers solutions for the most demanding missions with a diverse portfolio of aircraft platforms. The company says it has more than 550 specialized business aircraft in service worldwide, flown by 160-plus operators in more than 50 countries, with flight hours exceeding 3 million.

Challenger and Global series aircraft can serve as platforms for special mission roles, with competitive speed, range, endurance, and payload capability. Typical missions include SAR, ISR, medical evacuation (medevac), head-of-state transport, weather/atmospheric observation, and national interest and border protection.

Furthermore, Bombardier has in-house engineering and support teams that can incorporate customer-specific mods and provide comprehensive integration solutions with full certification capabilities across civilian, military, and hybrid ops.

Daher TBM 900 series TPs can carry equipment attached to external underwing hardpoints and still retain handling qualities and flight envelope performance.

Daher

Daher has the capacity to deliver comprehensive solutions that meet the requirements of SMA operators, from design, engineering, and integration of special systems, avionics, and sensors, to flight testing, certification, and maintenance of these components.

This OEM offers both its TBM series and Kodiak platforms. In special mission configuration, TBM 900 series TPs deliver cruise speeds of up to 330 KTAS, max range of 1730 nm, and useful load of 1403 lb.

In ISR configuration, it has a multi-sensor turret as a platform for observation with synthetic moving radar/ground moving target indicator.

The Kodiak 100 series TP is also a proven performer in ISR, airborne law enforcement, and medevac missions, with a useful load of 3535 lb, short takeoff and landing capability (950 ft), and the ability to loiter for up to 10 hours.

Dassault

Dassault Falcon jets equipped for medevac can carry out long-distance missions, keeping patients stable and comfortable while providing space for essential medical personnel.

Falcon jets perform specialized roles for governments, medevac operators, and scientific organizations. Dassault reports that about 10% of the worldwide Falcon fleet is employed in such missions, with more than 200 multi-mission Falcons in more than 40 countries.

In the electronic warfare field, Dassault engineers work closely with providers to integrate intelligence-gathering systems into Falcon airframes.

They also have experience in converting aircraft into advanced airborne intensive care units if required.

Falcons operating in maritime surveillance carry specialized search equipment, including advanced radar and optical search systems to scan the oceans for surface threats, track environmental hazards, and search for vessels in distress.

Embraer’s Phenom 300MED is designed to optimize medical transportation. It has the largest entrance door in the light jet segment, facilitating the rapid boarding and deplaning of patients and equipment with the use of accessories that come standard on the aircraft.

Embraer

Embraer’s goal in the SMA field is to help operators to outperform regardless of mission requirements. Its Phenom 300MED, for example, is a medevac variant created in partnership with aeromedical solutions experts Umlaut and Aerolite.

The Phenom 300MED has both civil and government applications, with options for either 1 or 2 stretchers, and the ability to carry an incubator and additional medical equipment.

Also available as a retrofit, the supplemental type certificate (STC) will be installed exclusively by Embraer’s Services & Support division.

Gulfstream G650ER in surveillance configuration. This ultra-long-range jet can cover distances of up to 7500 nm and has a max speed of M.925.

Gulfstream

Gulfstream has more than 5 decades of experience in special missions sales, modifications, and support, transforming its bizjet platforms into aerial command centers, research labs, secure transports, and medical centers.

To date, the company has delivered more than 200 SMA that support government and military agencies in 40-plus countries.

In flying-ambulance configuration, Gulfstream offers a quiet, low-cabin-altitude environment, fitted with advanced life support and surgical equipment. And, in the airborne security field, the G650ER is a platform that offers maximum flexibility and endurance thanks to its max cruise altitude of 51,000 ft and 7500-nm range.

Gulfstream aircraft also perform in airborne research, often carrying heavy payloads in extreme environments to sample atmospheric data, monitor sea levels, and chase storm systems to provide weather forecasts.

According to the manufacturer, 30 countries have chosen Gulfstream aircraft, equipped with secure encrypted communications, for head-of-state transport, and 10 more nations rely on Gulfstream to convey other leadership personnel and VIPs.

Pilatus PC-24 is certified for single-pilot ops and can fly into and out of unimproved runways in remote locations. Its mission profiles include medevac and government services.

Pilatus

The Swiss OEM has extensive experience building high-performance turboprops for special mission organizations around the world, and understands the demands placed on SMA, which must be available for duty at a moment’s notice.

The single-pilot-certified Pilatus PC-12 is a textbook example of a multirole aircraft. The worldwide fleet has passed the 8-million-flight-hour mark, and operates in remote regions such as the Arctic, the Australian deserts, the North Atlantic, and the mountainous areas of southwest Asia.

PC-12 NGX Spectre is used by military agencies in ISR configuration, equipped with electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) sensors for an in-flight 360º view that can be controlled by a tactical flight officer from a mission operator station.

The PC-24 twin jet is popular in a variety of roles, including special missions, such as in medevac and government applications. It has the capability of operating from unpaved runways, and its interior can be configured to accommodate cargo or mission-critical equipment.

The King Air 360ER is well suited for surveillance missions because of its large pressurized cabin, max speed of 303 KTAS, and range of 2539 nm. It has the capacity to carry EO/IR units, streaming video datalink, and advanced communication systems.

Textron

The company offers numerous models for the special mission market segment, including Citation, King Air, and Caravan products. In ISR configuration, Textron offers 8 types – the Baron G58, Cessna Skylane, Turbo Stationair HD, Caravan and Grand Caravan EX, King Air 260, 360, and 360ER, and Citation Longitude.

In addition to their short, unimproved runway capability, these aircraft can be fitted with diverse equipment such as airborne cameras, dedicated tactical operation stations, fixed and/or retractable EO/IR mounts, mission management computers, tactical radio and satellite downlink for real-time data sharing, and, in the case of the Longitude, optional internal night vision goggle (NVG)-compatible lighting, and a flexible cabin environment for long flights, including a refreshment center and lavatory.