SINGAPORE (July 24): The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) say they have invested in a new ground system costing $8.4 million in total, in a bid to enhance search and rescue capabilities in Singapore’s maritime and aeronautical Search and Rescue Regions (SRRs).

Known as a medium-altitude earth orbit search and rescue (MEOSAR) system, the satellite technology comprises a ground segment as well as a space segment which deploys medium-altitude earth orbit (MEO) satellites.

Distress signals emitted from the emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships or persons in distress, will be received simultaneously by the MEO satellites and relayed back to the ground segment.

In a joint release on Thursday, CAAS and MPA say the new MEOSAR ground system is an improvement to the current low-altitude earth orbit search and rescue (LEOSAR) ground system in place, as it has more access to satellites and employment of more advanced technologies to enhance position accuracy for faster detection and location of distress parties.

It is expected to be fully operational in 2018.

The adoption of the new MESOAR ground system is an initiative under the Cospas-Sarsat programme, an international satellite-based programme which, according to both authorities, is an international satellite-based programme that provides accurate, timely and reliable distress alert and location data to help search and rescue authorities assist persons in distress.

CAAS and MPA add that the initiative is in line with their shared of objective of saving lives, given how Singapore has been an active participant of the programme since 1991.

“The acquisition of the improved space-based system will enhance our search and rescue capabilities. It will complement our equipment and resources to provide faster, more accurate and reliable data to locate persons in distress,” says Kevin Shum, director-general of CAAS.

Andrew Tan, chief executive of MPA, adds: “In any search and rescue mission, time is of the essence. The new MEOSAR system will allow us to detect and locate the distress party more accurately for the expeditious deployment of assets to save lives. This is in line with the MPA’s continuous efforts to adopt new technologies to enhance our search and rescue capabilities.”