UK-headquartered 2Excel Aviation has launched a bespoke five year surveillance service and aircraft concept for the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to support a variety of ocean-based requirements, including search and rescue.
The company has agreed to provide two new King Air surveillance aircraft to the MCA. These first-of-its-type machines are designed to complement and enhance the MCA's life-saving search and rescue, law enforcement, fisheries and pollution detection capabilities. The King Airs are operated by 2Excel's special missions division, based at Doncaster-Sheffield airport in south Yorkshire.
2Excel special missions director Arnie Palmer says: “At 2Excel we are highly skilled at quickly delivering complex concepts into capabilities, and this contract with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is a shining example of that. Since the MCA contracted us, to us flying the first mission in the King Air, was just eight months. The work drew on expertise across 2Excel, including our capability development team, who worked on the integrated design, manufacturing and installation of the specialist mission equipment, to training our crews to operate the aircraft.
“This prestigious contract is great news for the airport and local economy and has created a number of jobs in the aviation sector. Our facility at Doncaster-Sheffield airport was chosen as the operating base due to its central location and 24 hour operations, which mean we can deploy at short notice anywhere in the UK Exclusive Economic Zone.”
The capability builds on the MCA's successful 2016 trial which concluded that fixed wing aircraft are capable of rapid response, are economic and have enhanced endurance. This means that a fixed wing aircraft should be rapidly on scene, conducting wide area search and co-ordinating response, thereby allowing helicopter assets to be employed on operations where they are most effective.
Based on the Beech King Air 200, the aircraft is fitted with a multi-spectral surveillance suite and co-ordinated through an integrated mission control system. Equipment includes the latest Leonardo radar system, HD electro-optical sensor turret, IR/UV line scanner and search and rescue (SAR) direction finder.
This level of integration significantly increases crew situational awareness whilst reducing operator workload. With integrated broadband satellite data and voice connectivity, and line of sight broadband voice communications designed for multi-agency communications, this provides search command and control to the MCA and its partner agencies.