Search and Rescue (SAR) is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or in imminent danger.
As per International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the state is responsible to provide 24-hour search and rescue services either individually or with the cooperation of another body.
The operation involves distress monitoring, coordinating, and operating the mission followed by providing medical assistance or medical evacuation.
Especially during bad weather, search missions are oftentimes required in the Maldives to mainly locate boats in distress or lost persons at sea.
Without a dedicated fleet, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has been chartering airplanes from airlines since the establishment of Air Maldives.
The current Maldives National Defence Force fleet includes Dhruv helicopters and a Dornier Do228 airplane but airline charters are still required due to limited availability.
Airplanes are of vital use as they can fly around weather and reach the required locations faster and can provide a better aerial view to identify and locate boats or personals in distress.
As Maldives is surrounded by sea, it’ll be difficult for rescue boats to navigate through rough weather and it adds up time to reach persons in distress.
Airplanes are generally flown to coordinates provided by MNDF and would circle around for the required time period.
MNDF Dhurv Helicopters and the Dornier Do228 are used primarily for these missions however if required, the go-to airplane for the missions in the Maldives is the De Havilland DHC6 Twin Otter.
The Twin Otter is a perfect fit for rescue missions as they can fly low and slow and can be easily used to land in islands and park by the beach.
Airplanes are charted primarily from national airline Maldivian and if required airplanes are also chartered from private airlines such as Trans Maldivian Airways.
These airplanes can also provide medical evacuation with stretchers and oxygen available onboard the cabin.
The national airlines Dash8’s are normally used for medical evacuation from distanced locations such as Addu Atoll.