Maritime Search & Rescue 2018: Focus Day Summary

The Maritime-SAR Conference kicked off with a lively Focus Day incorporating new technology and traditional air platforms into SAR.

First up in the morning was Fernando Mojica (Transport Canada) who gave a brief overview of aviation in the Canadian CG and Transport Canada. Thereafter he gave a detailed brief of ongoing UAV work being done by Transport Canada emphasising the need for cooperation and coordination amongst the multiple Ministries that benefit from the product. Finishing off Fernando talked about future plans in partnership with Denmark and US is using military spec RPAS for civil MDA in the high Arctic – including right whale spotting in restricted navigation channels (commercial implications) and a marine wildlife survey in McKenzie Estuary.

Captain Dolores Brenko Skerjanc a Croatian Harbour Master outlined their Governments use of new smartphone technology to enhance maritime safety and plans to carry out UAV patrols in partnership with EMSA in the summer.

Dr Catherine Cahill (Alaska Centre for UAS integration) followed on from Fernandos presentation and gave an overview of Alaska’s UAS experience over the last 18 years in the Arctic and role of Fairbanks University. She noted the challenges – weather, icing, reduced battery life due to extreme cold, no cell phone coverage, poor satellite cover, lots of private aircraft flying IFR, poor understanding of payload limitations by environmental specialists and risk of polar bears attacking crews and the benefits – range, duration, safer, payload agnostic, weather independent (dirty, dull and dangerous) and does not frighten wildlife.

Fredrik Kokacka (Swedish Maritime Authority) said in his presentation that the two most important things in SAR is shortening the response time and knowing the location. Their Sea Traffic Management Project co-financed by the EU aims at creating a safer, more efficient and economically friendly maritime sector.

Phil Hanson (UK Coastguard aviation assurance manager) gave a briefing on the evolution of the current UK’s helicopter SAR service, the UKSARH 2G (second generation SAR helicopter contract) currently in planning which will be viewed as a multi-role concept to support police and health services more fluidly. Finally Phil gave a briefing on small UAV project with local coastguard and the RNLI in improving search possibilities for missing persons.

The morning closed with Marty Rogers (US FAA) who talked about the FAAs work on safe integration of UAV’s into regulated airspace and informing UAS policy through research. Interestingly he noted that the collision with a fixed wing UAV is significantly worse than with a rotary UAV.

The afternoon was taken up with a Panel Discussion on integrating manned and unmanned flight into the same air space. Panalists were Fernando Mojica(UAV), Andres Montan(Dash 8 Sensors officer) Martin Baltzer (Swedish CG Pilot). The main concerns revolve around trust in UAV flight safety. How much can the manned aircrew trust the UAV pilot – live communications; training and understood and pre-agreed and pre-exercised conops/SOP’s may be the answer.

Chris Reynolds
Director
Irish Coast Guard
Irish Maritime Administration
Chairman of Maritime SAR

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