AMSA COORDINATING SEARCH FOR HELICOPTER IN ANTARCTICA
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is currently coordinating a
search for a helicopter approximately 100 kilometres from the Dumont
D'Urville base in Antarctica.
AMSA's Rescue Coordination (RCC) was notified at 9.05pm 28 October
2010 of a 406 MHz distress beacon activation from an AS350 Squirrel
helicopter with four male French nationals on board.
The helicopter operates in Antarctica from the French research vessel
L'Astrolabe. The helicopter was reported to have departed the ship 20
minutes after another helicopter enroute to Dumont D'Urville base but failed
to arrive. L'Astrolabe is currently positioned about 370 kilometres North
East of Dumont D'Urville and is icebound.
The helicopter was last observed on the helicopters tracking system at an
altitude of 29 feet at 20 knots. There has been no radio communication with
The distress beacon remains active and RCC Australia has tasked a United
State Air Force C17 jet from Christchurch New Zealand, a Royal Australian
Air Force AP3 Orion aircraft from Darwin with emergency drop capability to
the distress location. The Australian Antarctic Division ship Aurora
Australis with two helicopters on board has also been diverted.
RCC Australia is also making contingency plans to evacuate any potential
casualties by aircraft from the ice runway at Dumont D'Urville to McMurdo
Base and then to mainland Australia or New Zealand if required.
It is anticipated that the United States Air Force jet will reach the location
of the helicopter at about 10.00am this morning where it will attempt to
establish radio communication.