In a latest report, Auditor-General Michael Ferguson revealed that several primary elements of Canada’s search-and-rescue capabilities are approaching their expiry and need immediate consideration in case it intends to carry on providing sustained service to people in distress across the land. Mr. Ferguson stated that “significant improvements” are urgently required, stating that the government must acquire new search-and-rescue aircraft, hire and train more personnel and modernize the information management system that is used during the dangerous operations.
The federal government is tasked to overlook one of the world’s largest areas of search-and-rescue (SAR) responsibility, i.e. 18 million square kilometres of land and water, which is often hyped up with puzzling weather and geographic conditions. The Auditor-General claims that the things currently stand, the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard have managed to “adequately respond” to the incidents that they have come across, however the situation is tremendously fragile. He explained that “we are very concerned about the sustainability of search and rescue in coming years.”
One of the main problems faced by SAR operations is a lack of adequate aircrafts, i.e. a result of numerous delays in the acquisition of new airplanes to replace aging fleets of Hercules C-130s and Buffalos. The Auditor-General stated that the Buffalos will need costly new engines after 2015, and the Hercules “are not equipped with sensors and data management systems found on modern SAR airplanes.” The report added that the “National Defence has not sufficiently replaced and has had difficulty maintaining its SAR aircraft at the level necessary to respond to SAR incidents effectively.”
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