The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) awarded Cobham SAR Services an A$640 million ($566 million) contract to provide airborne search-and-rescue services for 12 years beginning in 2016. Cobham will take over the mission from AeroRescue, the current contractor.
Under the contract the AMSA announced on October 24, Cobham will purchase, modify and operate four Bombardier Challenger CL-604 twin-engine jets to conduct missions over land and sea. It will modify the jets to Australian requirements with new electronic sensors, high-vision windows and air operable doors to drop life-saving equipment. The aircraft’s new mission management and communications system will send streaming video, audio and imagery from the Challengers to AMSA’s rescue coordination center in Canberra, Cobham said.
AeroRescue now uses modified Dornier 328 turboprops for the SAR mission. “The future capability will use faster and longer-range aircraft to provide a similar level of capability to our current service, but using fewer aircraft,” said Mick Kinley, AMSA CEO.
The contract calls for Cobham to begin search-and-rescue service from Perth in August 2016, followed by Cairns and Melbourne by the end of the year. Cobham said it will employ five-member air crews, including a captain, first officer, visual search officer, electronic search observer and aircraft mission coordinator. They will be on permanent standby for day or night taskings.