Sundt Air key player in major contract with Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF)

Aircraft manufacturer Textron will deliver 3 custom built Cessna aircraft to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), and they have chosen Norwegian suppliers both on technical equipment and installation jobs – the sister companies Norwegian Special Mission and Sundt Air respectively.

An Automatic Flight Inspection System (AFIS) is equipment for calibrating navigational aids at an airport. The system is integrated into an aircraft which then is being used for quality control of the navigational aids on the ground.  This safeguards that the airport’s air traffic management systems are precisely set and work properly.

Extensive modifications are needed for installation of AFIS equipment in an aircraft. Consequently, when JASDF was to acquire 3 new Flight Inspection aircraft, a comprehensive tender was published, accountable manager of Sundt Air, Geir Jensen states.

This is a major undertaking. We expect to spend around 4000 workhours per aircraft. These are brand new 18-million-dollar aircraft which will be totally dismantled. The current interior of the aircraft is to be removed and modified before reinstallation together with new consoles and other equipment for subsequent testing, registration and certification.
Geir Jensen, Accountable Manager Sundt Air

Design, build and operate - the entire product from A to Z

Tender offers from companies around the world notwithstanding, much of the contract landed in Norway. The chosen aircraft were 3 Cessna Citation Latitude manufactured by US aircraft manufacturer Textron . And – to deliver the AFIS system itself, as well as do the modifications on their aircraft, Norwegian Special Mission and Sundt Air are part of the team. Getting the trust from the manufacturer giant Textron is great, according to Jensen.

– Having become so-called “preferred supplier” at Textron is primarily about the knowledge and expertise we have acquired in-house. We are not just a workshop, but also an operational department. We do the conversion work, and also the entire rest of the operation – from design of the modification to be done to testing, support and certification. Our sister company, Norwegian Special Mission, which literally cohabits with us, is a world leader in the field of AFIS systems. The premise for this job is that we can provide turnkey operations within special assignments, he explains.

Special Mission for Nordic Authorities

The two sister companies unsurprisingly have several good collaborative projects to refer to already.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Coast Guard are responsible for airborne maritime surveillance in Norwegian waters. The aircraft are equipped with consoles from Norwegian Special Mission, and are modified, leased and operated by Sundt Air. In Denmark as well, the job of monitoring the coastline and surrounding naval areas is important in the fight against environmental crime in shipping, oil and fishing industries. Here, Sundt Air operates a similar aircraft with an operational team performing the service on contract with the Danish Defense Command. Demand for this type of service is growing and Sundt Air has noticed interest from several European countries, according to Jensen.

– Maritime surveillance aircraft can be equipped with a variety of aids depending on the principal’s requirements. For example, SLAR (side looking airborne radar), infrared camera, radar, regular camera, drop tube to drop buoys marking a contaminated area enabling surface vessels to find the location afterwards, and finally to drop life-saving equipment like life rafts. In the field of maritime surveillance, we offer everything from the modification of the aircraft itself, to providing the maritime surveillance service operation. Anything the customer wants can be built within the physical limitations of the aircraft, Jensen says.

International door opener

There will be plenty to do in the hangar at Sundt Air in the future. Two of the aircraft in the tender for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force will be delivered by spring 2020, while the last aircraft has a deadline in January 2021. There is no doubt that such a prestigious project with a major player like Textron opens doors. Initially, it results in close collaboration with Textron, according to Jensen, but it also means that Sundt Air and the sister company Norwegian Special Mission show to others that they have the muscles to deliver larger projects on their own.

-Little Sundt Air in little Norway being able to compete at this level is very stimulating. On this offer we have competed against aircraft manufacturers and players around the world. A job of such an extent with such big players is great both for us and for Norwegian aviation, so this is very exciting, says Jensen.