Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue aircraft to see further, more clearly, with Sentient ViDAR

Published on: December 2015



01 December 2015


The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) four new Challenger 604 jet search and rescue aircraft which begin to enter service in August 2016 will have an unprecedented ability to visually detect and track objects and people in the water, thanks to prime contractor Cobham Aviation Services’ selection of Sentient Vision’s Kestrel Maritime ViDAR (Visual Detection and Ranging) system as part of the program’s sensor suite.

Kestrel Maritime ViDAR consists of a 9-megapixel optical sensor and on-board software that automatically detects and highlights sea surface objects invisible to the naked eye in real time. In tests with the US Coast Guard in 2014 the ViDAR system detected small boats at ranges in excess of 20nm that were optically invisible to the sensor operators. Each Challenger 604 will mount three fixed ViDAR sensors and an integrated processing system to cue the primary Wescam MX-15 sensor to detected objects.

Cobham Business Development Director Anthony Patterson commented. “The real benefit we see in ViDAR is the ability to maintain a consistent quality visual search that has the same probability of detection in the first hour through to the last hour of an eight hour mission. Visual searching with the human eye is very fatiguing and diminishes over time as crew fatigue. This is the first product that offers the potential to offset the human fatigue factor for search and rescue (SAR) operations and we are very excited about the benefits to SAR outcomes.”

Sentient Director of Business Development, Strategy and Partnerships, Simon Olsen, said ViDAR’s inclusion on the AMSA SAR aircraft was validation of its proven capability.

“With ViDAR, Cobham will be able to provide AMSA with a proven, mature, highly capable visual detection system suited to the SAR role,” he said. “We are proud that Cobham has chosen our system as part of a sophisticated sensor suite that can be trusted to deliver during critical, life-saving SAR operations.”


About Cobham Aviation Services

Cobham Aviation Services provides specialist aviation solutions to defense, government and commercial customers under long term performance based contracts. This includes operating commercial passenger and freight aircraft in Australia for airline and resource industry clients, undertaking special mission operations for the Australian Government, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense, and NATO, and delivering world class helicopter operations, training and support services. With a combined fleet of over 130 fixed and rotary wing aircraft, Cobham Aviation Services is a trusted partner worldwide.


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