The Royal Australian Navy Laser Airborne Depth Sounder Flight will arrive in New Zealand today to assist with disaster relief efforts off the South Island of New Zealand.
The Cairns-based aircraft will conduct a hydrographic survey of the sea floor in the coastal margins of the north-east coast of the South Island following the 7.9 magnitude earthquake near Christchurch earlier this month.
Commanding Officer Laser Airborne Depth Sounder Flight Lieutenant Commander Susanna Hung said the flight’s role would be to resurvey the coastline for the safety of navigation and to assist in determining the extent of movement caused by the earthquake.
“We’re pleased to deploy at the request of the New Zealand government to survey the sea floor off the north-east coast of the South Island,” Lieutenant Commander Hung said.
“In our de Havilland Dash 8-200 we will fly over the area and collect hydrographic survey data, which will reveal what has happened below the waterline, and identify any shifts in the ocean floor which mariners need to be aware of.
“The data we collect will be provided to the New Zealand Hydrographic Authority for production of updated nautical charts.”
The Laser Airborne Depth Sounder (LADS) is part of Royal Australian Navy’s Hydrographic Service and is supported by Fugro LADS Corporation and Cobham.
It provides an extremely capable and effective airborne capability in addition to six survey ships.
Navy personnel operate the airborne survey system from the main cabin of the aircraft and pass the survey data to personnel on the ground, which is forwarded to the Australian Hydrographic Office for final verification.
The heart of the survey system is a powerful laser that transmits both infrared and visible green beams from under the aircraft.
The fixed infrared beam provides height information above the sea surface while the green beam produces a scan width of up to 288 metres recording depths up to 70 metres deep in pristine waters and heights of up to 50 metres.
During survey operations the LADS aircraft flies at between 366 and 670 metres altitude and surveys up to 40 square nautical miles per day at 100% coverage.
In relatively clear coastal waters, LADS has proved to be highly effective – its productivity and area coverage said to be so good that surface units are no longer routinely tasked in these areas.
In regions of poor water clarity, LADS is a complementary capability to surface survey units.
The system is an Australian design and remains almost unique to Australia.