Bombardier Aerospace has announced that National Air Support (NAS) of Adelaide, Australia has placed an order for three Bombardier Q300 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) for the Surveillance Australia Coastwatch program. The price for the three aircraft is approximately U.S. $53 million. Surveillance Australia began operating Bombardier Dash 8/Q200 aircraft in 1996 and currently operates five of these turboprops that have accumulated more than 70,000 hours of aerial surveillance. They are used to detect illegal fishing and immigration, quarantine and environmental hazards, drug smuggling and missing vessels. NAS placed the Q300 aircraft order after winning a 12-year, $1 billion Australian dollars renewal of its contract with Australian Customs.

In addition to the three new Q300 aircraft acquired from Bombardier, NAS will purchase and convert two Dash 8/Q series aircraft from the existing fleet of sister company National Jet Systems to the surveillance role, doubling the size of the fleet.

"The large cabin of the Q300 accommodates sensor and communications consoles, aircrew and customs officers, with room to move about on long flights," said Peter Nottage, chief executive officer of National Air Support. "The high wing and ideal window positions give our crew uninterrupted vision for surface search. When the aircraft is deployed away from base for extended periods, the crew appreciates its reliability and the fact that its auxiliary power unit turns the cabin into an air-conditioned, well-lit operations center, wherever the aircraft is parked."

This is the third order placed for the Q300 aircraft for a special missions role. The aircraft was previously chosen by the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau for navigation aids inspection and calibration, and by the Swedish Coast Guard for maritime surveillance.

The Surveillance Australia Q300 aircraft will be delivered to field aviation at Toronto's Pearson International Airport for conversion to the MPA role.