The Auditor-General for Australia has found that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) management of its $640 million Challenger search and rescue jet contract has been fully effective. The findings were published in an ANAO performance audit report on the contract earlier this week.
AMSA contracted Cobham SAR Services in 2014 to provide four Bombardier Challenger CL-604 special mission jets, to enter into service in 2016 for 12 years. The contract included the acquisition, modification, operation and maintenance of the fleet across three bases in Cairns, Melbourne and Perth.
The Auditor-General performance audit aimed to provide transparency over services delivered under contract, and independent assurance to Parliament about the effective management of the contract.
The audit found that AMSA’s management of the contract has been fully effective, and that the contract is being delivered in accordance with the planned cost, scope and delivery timeframe. The audit also found that all contracted search and rescue services are being provided, and the report made no recommendations.
The report summarises key messages, including examples of good practice by AMSA, which were identified as potentially relevant for other Australian Government entities.
AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said airborne search and rescue was at the heart of AMSA’s response capability.
“Providing a search and rescue function to the Australian community is one of the most challenging and rewarding functions undertaken by AMSA,” Mr Kinley said.
“Since the jets entered into service, they have helped save many lives and assisted people in need; flying up to 20 missions a month.
“AMSA’s asset management team has done an incredible job managing the contracted Challenger search and rescue fleet, which is about more than just impressive technology. It’s about making sure that Australians come home safely to their loved ones.
“We are honoured to provide this service to the Australian community and we are delighted with the findings of this performance audit.”
AMSA Acting Manager Asset Management and Preparedness, Mr Mike Wytcherley, said the Challengers have the technical capabilities required to meet the varied demands of AMSA’s response requirements.
“These aircraft can fly more than 5,500km at the speed of an airliner, and stay airborne for up to 8 hours, all while maintaining real-time communication with the AMSA Response Centre from anywhere in Australia’s 52 million square kilometre search and rescue region.
“The aircraft and their well-trained crews use a range of specialised technology to aid in search and rescue, where the subject is a person in the water or a piece of debris. Once found, the aircraft can assist other rescue assets to find the scene or initiate their own response. Each aircraft is equipped to deliver life-saving equipment like life rafts, dewatering pumps, and supplies of food and water using a purpose-designed dispatch and parachute system.”