SINGAPORE-- The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) have invested in a new Medium-altitude Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) ground system to enhance search and rescue (SAR) capabilities in Singapore's maritime and aeronautical Search and Rescue Regions (SRRs).

Costing S$8.4 million (S$1=RM3.143), the MEOSAR ground system will be fully operational in 2018.

We are committed to ensuring that prompt assistance is available to persons in distress within Singapore's SRRs, CAAS Director-General, Kevin Shum, in a statement today.

The acquisition of the improved space-based system will enhance our SAR capabilities. It will complement our equipment and resources to provide faster, more accurate and reliable data to locate persons in distress, said Shum.

The system comprises a ground segment as well as a space segment which deploys Medium-altitude Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites.

Distress signals, emitted from the emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships or persons in distress, will be received simultaneously by the MEO satellites and relayed back to the ground segment.

The new MEOSAR ground system is an improvement to the current Low-altitude Earth Orbit Search and Rescue ground system, with access to more satellites and employment of more advanced technologies to enhance position accuracy for faster detection and location of distress parties.

In any SAR mission, time is of the essence. The new MEOSAR system will allow us to detect and locate the distress party more accurately for the expeditious deployment of assets to save lives, MPA Chief Executive, Andrew Tan, meanwhile said.

This is in line with the MPA's continuous efforts to adopt new technologies to enhance our SAR capabilities, said Tan.

The adoption of the MEOSAR ground system is an initiative under the Cospas-Sarsat programme, which is an international satellite-based programme that provides accurate, timely and reliable distress alert and location data to help SAR authorities assist persons in distress.

In line with the objective of saving lives, Singapore has been an active participant of the programme since 1991.