The U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet of seventeen Airbus HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft has completed its first 50,000 hours of flight five years after the start of initial operational capability.
The demonstrated maintainability of the HC-144A aircraft allows the Coast Guard to fly more hours per airframe in a year with the Ocean Sentry than any other aircraft in its fleet.
“The combination of low operating costs and ease of maintenance will continue to enable the HC- 144A to achieve exceptionally high flying hours,” said Allan McArtor Airbus Group Inc. Chairman and CEO. “We look forward to supporting it in service for many years to come.”
The fleet delivered by Airbus Defense and Space, Inc. has successfully undertaken a wide variety of maritime patrol missions from bases at Cape Cod, Mass., Mobile, Ala., and Miami. The Coast Guard will take delivery of the 18th aircraft this year and is planning to base three aircraft at the fourth HC-144A air station in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The HC-144A Ocean Sentry is based on the proven Airbus CN235 tactical airlifter and maritime patrol aircraft built by Airbus Defense and Space, of which more than 235 are currently in operation by 29 countries. The HC-144A was selected by the US Department of Homeland Security as its 2013 DHS Project of the Year, recognizing the program’s record of on-time and on-budget achievement.
In its first 50,000 hours in operation the HC-144A has reliably performed a broad range of missions including search and rescue, homeland security, disaster response and national defense, and it has been a key tool for the Coast Guard at critical moments including the Haiti earthquake, Deepwater Horizon disaster and Hurricane Sandy.
Able to carry up to six tons of payload or 51 personnel, and with a maximum cruise speed of 240 kt (450 km/h), the CN235 can take off from, and land on, short, semi-prepared runways with soft surfaces thanks to its Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) characteristics and strong landing gear with tandem low-pressure tyres. Its excellent handling qualities, high manoeuvrability and fast engine response allow safe operations at a very low altitude, making it an ideal platform for coastal surveillance and SAR duties. Outstanding reliability and supportability result in high aircraft availability and the lowest life cycle cost (LCC) in its class.