Advanced Imaging Technology Finds People Faster
Guillermo Lavia and Juan Martinez Verez lifesavers with INAER, the search and rescue (SAR) branch of the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency, spend their days (and many nights) aboard the Helmer 401, an H225 helicopter based in A Coruña, Spain. Their job is to carry out SAR operations in the waters off Costa Morte – a treacherous, rocky peninsula jutting into the perilous waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Translated literally as “Death Coast,” Costa Morte is named for the area’s numerous shipwrecks. In winter, waves can reach up to 12 metres, but it’s a hazardous spot to navigate a boat any time of year.
Despite its threatening name, the area is home to significant fishing and shell-fishing activity, and it is part of a major European shipping lane. Verez and Lavia are regularly called in to work accidents, medical evacuations, searches and to identify oil slicks that post an environmental threat.
The rescue helicopter, equipped with WESCAM’s MX-15 system, is mission-ready at a moment’s notice. In fact, it can be at the rescue zone within 30 minutes of a call. And that’s when things get complicated – darkness or bad weather can make spotting a small boat a very big challenge.
Cutting Through Bad Weather to Find People Fast
In any SAR mission, timing is everything, and WESCAM’s MX-15 advanced imaging system helps operators complete missions faster. Its sensors provide 24/7 imaging and real-time image enhancement capabilities that make it easier to see in harsh conditions. Haze penetration and heat-tracking technology combat fog, rain and darkness while image blending capabilities combine colour and infrared imagery, giving operators a clearer, holistic picture of the situation.
The system also has a GEO-location, pointing, focus and tracking technology suite that helps reduce operator fatigue during long, strenuous operations. Verez and Lavia have everything at their fingertips – and credit the system with giving them to the information they need to find people faster and save more lives.
Enhancing Canadian Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations
WESCAM systems are used worldwide for large-scale SAR, from coast guard operations to military and government applications. The Canadian Forces – responsible for SAR over vast areas – are often hindered by poor visibility due to weather, darkness or dense forest. For this reason, the WESCAM MX-15 was chosen for the Canadian Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) program, which outfits EO/IR technology on sixteen C-295W aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space.
The new aircraft will carry out vital SAR operations across Canada’s vast landscape, including the Arctic. The WESCAM technology will enable them to locate people and objects (including downed planes) from over 40 km away, even in low-light or obscured conditions – reducing search time and increasing success.
See how WESCAM systems are being used in forest fire support and global SAR missions tied to natural disasters.
WESCAM technology provides defence agencies around the world the tools they need to protect the countries they serve. To find out more about our technology, check out WESCAM.com or visit us on YouTube. You can also visit us on Twitter at @L3WESCAM. If you are interested in talking with someone about how L3 WESCAM’s products and services can help improve your mission success please email us at sales.wescam@L3T.com