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Contracted search and rescue aircraft and equipment

Providing 24/7 search and rescue (SAR) service for Australia.

We provide search and rescue (SAR) for incidents which occur within the Australian SAR region. We currently have contracts in place to ensure there are aircraft available for SAR 24/7. This is known as the dedicated airborne SAR capability. It allows us to task aviation assets to SAR incidents in a timely manner within the Australian SAR region.

Find out about our new search and rescue aircraft—the Challenger.

A contract was signed in October 2014 with Cobham SAR Services Pty Ltd to provide the next generation aircraft dedicated to search and rescue from late 2016, for a period of 12 years.

In addition to the dedicated SAR aircraft, we maintain a database of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft available for SAR.

The aircraft are arranged by their capability into tiers, and form part of a comprehensive capability mix that combines to form an effective SAR service:

Tier 1

Dedicated fixed wing aircraft and crews capable of:

  • electronic and visual search
  • deployment of emergency supplies
  • command and control
  • homing in on distress beacons.

Tier 2

Rescue capable helicopters and crew that are already providing emergency medical services and SAR services to the Australian Government or a state or territory government and can be engaged on an opportunity basis for rescue.

This may involve:

  • homing in on distress beacons
  • being a search observer
  • limited supply dropping
  • undertaking command and control in a pollution incident.

Tier 3

Rescue capable helicopters and crew already providing SAR services to a company—federal, state or territory government—can be engaged on an opportunity basis for rescue.

This may include:

  • homing in on beacons
  • being a search observer
  • limited supply dropping
  • undertaking command and control in a pollution incident.

Tier 4

Opportunity fixed wing aircraft and crew capable of visual search and homing to distress beacons.

Supplementary tier

Opportunity fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and crew capable of visual search.

These operators are provided with information on how to conduct a search however, are not provided with specialised SAR equipment.

Related information

Last Updated: 

21 November 2017