Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : November 2009 Contents 39
NOVEMBER 2009 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
also lost an AaE tender to Qantas to pro-
vide west coast-east coast overnight freight
services, with the joint venture specifying
Boeing 737s to replace the old Boeing 727-
200 fleet National Jet operated.
Nevertheless, through the year -- apart
from its new AaE deal -- Cobham gained
two important extensions of resources
work, and its Surveillance Australia unit
brought two of its radar equipped Reims
F406s back into service in July with minor
equipment upgrades to cope with the addi-
tional workload for its maritime fleet, after
the recent appearance of more boat people
on the northern horizon led to additional
funds in this year's federal budget.
It was the original Coastwatch contract,
won by National Jet Systems in 1993 and
operated from 1994, using 15 aircraft of
four different types, which brought the
British aerospace group into Australia.
As a losing bidder, Cobham Plc later
approached National Jet -- founded by the
late Guy Lloyd -- with a takeover offer and
took control of the company in 2000, using
the experience to tender for the much-up-
graded Customs ser vice requirement.
It claimed a big coup in winning the
new turnkey Coastwatch contract, Project
Sentinel, in 2006 against tough interna-
tional competition, in a deal worth about
$1 billion over 12 years, taking it out to
2020 with options for a further two years.
It required the company to upgrade
its five Bombardier Dash 8s and acquire
another five, all to be fitted with the latest
surveillance sensors, communications and
data technology for satellite based, all-elec-
tronic sur veillance.
e task to detect illegal immigrants
and fishing boats, drug smugglers, environ-
mental hazards and missing ships around
the clock, in all weathers, in Australia's
maritime exclusive economic zone keeps
seven aircraft in the air. ey fly 40 to 50
mission hours each day, with each Bom-
bardier Dash 8 capable of covering 1100
square kilometres per flight from four bases
extending around the northern coast from
Broome to Cairns.
e two Reims F406s, based in Cairns,
are now helping Cobham to provide an
additional 2000 flying hours annually to
the original 15,000 hours, which consists of
about 2500 missions.
At the time of the Cobham takeover,
National Jet also had contracts to fly
regional ser vices for Qantas subsidiary
QantasLink, operate overnight freight
ser vices for the Qantas-Australia Post
joint venture, Australian air Express, and
provide passenger services to remote sites
for resources companies.
e QantasLink work, first obtained
in 1990, now involves fully crewing and
maintaining a fleet of 11 Boeing 717s,
carrying more than one million passengers
annually. Cobham's British executives tout
this contract as making the company "the
virtual custodians of the Qantas product'' in
Nottage said the current contract had
"several years" to run, extending well into
the next decade.
e AaE contract -- which dates back
to 1991 -- covers weeknight flights linking
Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane,
using a fleet of three BAe 146QT freight-
ers which are cleared to use Sydney and
Adelaide during curfew hours.
e ser vice, for which Cobham has
operational management, carries more than
22,000 tonnes of air freight each year.
In the economic downturn, Nottage said,
"the air freight industry has been hit quite
hard", while the venture grounded its Boe-
ing 727 freighters last December as Qantas
phased in the 737 replacements. ree of
the four old Boeing trijets have been sold
overseas, including one to Malaysia, and
the fourth broken up.
In the resources sector, Cobham has
become the largest contractor, overshadow-
ing the likes of busy rivals such as Alliance
and Skywest. e British parent says its
Australian arm, with a mix of 146s and
Dash 8s, operates more than 7500 flights
annually for the resources sector in Aus-
tralia and Papua New Guinea, transporting
about 130,000 passengers.
Its clients include Rio Tinto, Leighton
Holdings, US oil giant Chevron and Santos
-- the listed Australian petroleum group an
original National Jet client.
In the past 12 months it has secured
a $50 million contract extension for the
Ok Tedi copper-gold mine in Papua New
Guinea, another $50 million extension to
link Leighton subsidiary HWE Mining's
Yandi iron ore operation for BHP Billiton
in the Pilbara with Perth, and a $40 million
deal to ser ve the Minara Resources nickel
and cobalt mine at Murrin Murrin in WA.
QANTAS CONTRACTOR Cobham/National Jet has been operating for QantasLink (and its Airlink predecessor) since 1990. Today the Cobham operated 717s carry
over one million passengers annually. (Rob Finlayson)
PET E R NOTTAGE The one time helicopter
engineering apprentice has led Cobham/National Jet
since early 2006.
Links Archive October 2009 December 09 Navigation Previous Page Next Page