The Australian government will replace some of the nation’s ageing Search and Rescue aircraft used by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in a move to boost the service’s response capabilities in Australia’s conventionally expansive and difficult terrain.
The new Challenger CL-604 jets, manufactured and supplied by Bombardier, will be rolled out into the AMSA’s fleet under a $640 million service contract over 12 years for new technology and aircraft to search for people in distress.
Following a competitive tender process, Cobham Aviation Services Australia was awarded the contract to provide the aircraft and crew, as well as provide maintenance and equipment for the capability.
Three of these four aircraft will be used to provide strategic coverage at Perth, Cairns and Essendon, with a fourth to be used by Cobham to replace the operational aircraft during maintenance and for training purposes.
Prior to the rollout of these new replacement Bombardier aircraft, the AMSA has used AeroRescue Dornier Aircraft in hundreds of rescues since they came online in 2005.
The new planes will use more modern technology and equipment to ensure rapid response capability to save people in distress in the water or on land.
This technology includes Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) to search at night, as well as anomaly detection sensors to complement work done by trained air observers.
The aircraft will have a range of new technology on board, including Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) technology to search at night and anomaly detection sensors to complement work done by the trained air observers.
According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss, this new technology will allow Search and Rescue Coordination Centre officers in Canberra to have the same view at a terminal in the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, as that of the Air Mission Coordinator on board the aircraft.
Mr Truss said the aircraft will also be able to live stream video of the situation in real time as they plan the rescue of those people.
“The aircraft, the equipment and the techniques used by the crew will be put through their paces in rigorous testing ahead of the planes coming into service progressively from August 2016,” Mr Truss said.
“The first jet arrived in Adelaide in late December and is being fitted for search and rescue purposes at Cobham’s hangar, ahead of drop trials and training. Modifications to the jets allow for vital stores, including survival equipment and satellite phones, to be available to people in need of rescue.”
“Last year alone, AMSA coordinated 429 rescues, saving 219 lives.
The first Challenger will come online in Perth in August 2016, with replacements to Cairns and Essendon to follow later in the year.
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