Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City received its first upgraded MH-65E Dolphin helicopter Monday to replace the legacy MH-65D helicopters that serve out of the Coast Guard’s largest MH-65 helicopter unit.
The avionics upgrade to the Echo or “E” configuration will provide enhanced search and rescue capabilities including modern “glass cockpit” technology that increases pilot and aircrew situational awareness.
The Dolphin upgrades also include reliability and capability improvements for the automatic flight control system, enhanced digital weather and surface radar, and multifunctional displays with more accurate fuel calculations.
The upgrades comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Next Generation Airspace Transportation System requirements, and extends the aircraft service life to the late 2030s.
The transition of Air Station Atlantic City’s 12 MH-65D helicopters to the upgraded “E” configuration is expected to take approximately 10 months.
During the upgrade period, the unit’s 62 pilots and 104 aircrew members will undergo a three-week transition course at the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama. Aircrew and mechanics will undergo formal training specific to their roles and duties during this course.
“The upgrades and advanced training will enhance the situational awareness of our aircrews and improve mission planning capabilities aboard the Coast Guard’s most prolific rotary-wing asset,” said Cmdr. Christian Polyak, engineering officer at Air Station Atlantic City. “The replacement and inspection of key aircraft components as a part of the upgrade are also expected to extend the aircraft’s service-life and enable us to continue safeguarding and securing our coasts for years to come.”
Air Station Atlantic City Dolphin helicopter crews perform search and rescue, provide aids to navigation support, and maritime law enforcement and marine environmental protection to the mid-Atlantic region from Long Island, New York, to the Maryland/Virginia border.
Air Station Atlantic City helicopters and aircrews also provide continuous support for the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s airspace security mission in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country as necessary.
Additionally, the upgrades also include advanced navigation capabilities that will allow pilots to safely maneuver through highly congested, complex air traffic that can be encountered in situations such as disaster response.
The Coast Guard plans to convert all 98 of its Dolphin helicopters to the MH-65E configuration by the end of 2024.