The Armed Forces of Maltaâ€™s Air Wing has completed a â‚¬2M refit project which saw the installation of new turbine engines and top of the range avionics on one of its Islanders as well as the full return to service of a third Aerospatiale SA316B Alouette helicopter.
The project, which was co-financed by the European Union and the Government of Malta, will mean a 30% increase in the Air Wingâ€™s operational assets as well as lower operating costs. The funding was applied for under the External Borders Fund (EBF) which supports countries who face a heavy financial burden arising from the implementation of common standards on control and surveillance of external borders policy.
Malta had two Britten Norman BN-2B aircraft with piston engines and one of these has now been converted to turbine standard and had a systems upgrade. The aircraft is now equipped with a Garmin GNS530 navigation system, autopilot and air conditioning. The aircraft retains the Sagem sensor fit on its starboard side but the forthcoming Beech 200s are scheduled to have a Wescam fit. The turbine conversation will enhance the operational capabilities of the aircraft in the lead up to the delivery of the new Beech aircraft due for delivery in 2011 and 2012.
The Islander updated and modified is AS9819, the second of its type the AFM acquired in 1998. This has been 9H-ADF when civil registered c/n 2156. The other Islander operated is still piston powered and not due for a similar upgrade, probably with a view that it will leave the islands after the Beech aircraft arrive.
The Alouette 9H-AAV/AS9315 SA316B c/n 2288 was acquired in 7/1993 and I believe has never been operated prior to this engine and SAR upgrade conversion. It received a â€˜newâ€™ engine to replace a time expired Turbomeca Artouste IIIB power plant. The aircraft also received a winch to bring it up to a similar standard to those already in service.
With three Alouetteâ€™s now available to service the AFM expect that they will be able to offer a 24/7 SAR service within 60nm of the islands from their own resources.
Both of the aircraft have been given a new paint scheme.
AFM staff are currently in the USA training for the new Beech King Air surveillance aircraft.
Reproduced from Police Aviation News with permission. Copyright and full responsibility for the content of this article remains with Police Aviation News
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