Saab expects to have completed certification of its 340 regional airliner-based Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) by the end of the year, a company official told IHS Jane's on 19 November.
Speaking at the Dubai Airshow, Johan Rattvall, director Maritime Surveillance Marketing and Sales, said that with the bulk of the certification activity already finished, only very minor issues now need to be addressed before the process is complete.
"We will have a list of things to fit [depending] on customer requirements, but the platform itself is now pretty much certified," he said.
Launched at the Farnborough Airshow in 2012, the twin-turboprop Saab 340 MSA was designed to be a cost-effective solution for those operators who require a coastal and blue water surveillance and long-range search-and-rescue (SAR) capability, but without the anti-submarine and anti-surface vessel warfare abilities of a fully-fledged maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).
As displayed at the Dubai Airshow, the 340 MSA features a 360-degree Telephonics 1700B maritime surveillance radar, a retractable StarSaphire HD electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret, satellite communications, a mission management system, the Automatic Identification System for locating and tracking surface vessels, a side-looking airborne radar (SLAR), very high-frequency/ultra high-frequency (VHF/UHF) direction finder, a cargo access hatch that doubles as an air drop door, ultra violet/infrared line scanner, and auxiliary fuel tanks for extended range.
With the Saab 340 no longer in production, the company plans to buy airframes on the used-market and to refurbish and equip them at its facility in Linkoping, Sweden. According to Rattvall, there are still some 400 aircraft in service around the world that would be suitable for conversion into the MSA platform. With the standard regional airframe lifed for a total of 80,000 hours, Rattvall added that the average MSA aircraft would have about 45,000 hours (or 1,500 hours per year over a 30-year timeframe) of life left in it.
Although Saab has yet to sign a launch customer for the MSA, Rattvall told IHS Jane's that the company "has had a really good response" to the concept.